There are many barriers to employing people with disability. Inaccessible technology or software, non-inclusive processes & inaccessibility of the work place often cause problems and require solutions, however, the biggest barrier to employing people with disability is the assumptions made by employers.
We often hear from employers regarding their concerns about certain disability types. Some concerns are valid and some concerns come from a lack of understanding or lack of exposure.
At EnAble India we do not blame employers for a lack of awareness, rather we focus on building awareness, changing mindsets and hence creating change agents for the future.
Assumption 1 – People with vision impairment can’t do computer based jobs
People with vision impairments CAN use computers, utilising a variety of different solutions including screen magnifiers, high contrast settings, enlarged font settings and screen readers.
The challenge will come in finding the Person with Disability who has received the right training on the solution that is suitable for them. Once the best solution is identified, candidates need training to build their proficiency. Just as in case of non-disabled candidates; no-one is born with a fast typing speed, it is a skill, which is built over a period of time with a lot of practice. Some candidates build proficiency very fast and some build their speed, quality and efficiency over a longer period of time.
EnAble India has built expertise since 1999 in creating workplace solutions for people with vision impairment, placing hundreds of visually impaired candidates in industries such as Banking and Finance, IT & technology and BPOs, to name just a few.
Understanding the requirements of a role and then matching it with any technology requirments or solutions, helps EnAble India to guide the correct person with vision impairment to the suitable role.
Assumption 2 – To hire a person with disability we have to sacrifice some quality, productivity, or efficiency.
If a hiring process focuses on employing someone with a disability in order to fill a quota, it will most likely not get the RIGHT person for the process. Not every person with a disability is suitable for every job type, and not every job type is suitable for all persons with disabilities.
The key is to finding the person with the right skills AND the right solutions, which are suited for their disability. Solutions are found with the right training, guidance and expertise.
If skills and solutions are not matched to a particular role or an individual; ultimately productivity, quality and efficiency will certainly be sacrificed.
As an example, it has been seen that candidates with hearing impairment have been hired in many large companies around India. Of these, vast majority of candidates have gone on to be successful in their chosen roles, however a smaller number have failed to produce the right results. When it was investigated, it was often found that there was a culture of non-inclusion during the team meetings & trainings.
The primary reason for the non-inclusion is that the company may not know HOW to include someone with hearing impairment as a part of its work force.
Once these companies started working in partnership with Enable India to build inclusive practices, it has been observed that there has been a vast improvement in results.
If an employer is sacrificing quality, productivity or efficiency after employing a person with disability, either they have the wrong person for that role (same as with non-disabled people), or there is a barrier that has stopped the person with disability from performing.
Identifying barriers and knocking them down is what Enable India is good at!!
Assumption 3 – The only good reason to hire a person with disability is out of charity
Employing people with disability makes good business sense!
We very often hear from employers about their team’s increase in productivity when people with disabilities have been successfully integrated into the workforce. When non-disabled candidates see people with disabilities doing the same role, and achieving the same results, the bar gets raised.
People with disabilities come from a variety of back-ground and might bring a new solution to problems faced in the workplace. These solutions could be based on responses to challenges they have faced in their lifetime.
Teams with diverse back-grounds have been shown by numerous studies to find better solutions to problems!
If a candidate with a disability has been matched to the right role, they should be expected to perform in the same way as someone without a disability; hence, how should it be considered as charity to give a capable person with disability a job?
Assumption 4 – If I have to hire someone with disability, hiring someone with a minor physical disability will cause the least disruption to my team
Many employers focus on employing people with minor physical disabilities, believing that hiring people with vision impairment, hearing impairment or other disabilities is just too challenging.
By opening the hiring process to people with different disabilities, you increase the chance of finding someone with the right skills. By focusing just on one disability you may miss the opportunity to interview a skilled and valuable potential employee.
Whilst there are challenges involved in employing people with disabilities, there is also an opportunity to build a culture of inclusion.
Hiring people with disabilities doesn’t need to cause any major disruption. If you find the right person, your team can continue to perform and grow.
Assumption 5 – Hearing impaired people will not be able to communicate in the office.
It easy to understand how someone might believe that communicating with people with hearing impairment is difficult. The vast majority of people do not know sign language, and if you don’t know sign language, you can’t communicate.
In fact, People with hearing impairment state that the majority of those they interact on a day to day basis, do not know sign language. If you do not know sign language you can utilise body language and basic signs. E.g. Asking someone to come to your desk is very easy using common-sense sign language.
In addition, for conversations that require more information, sitting and communicating with the aid of pen/paper or typing on a computer is easier than many might think.
Communicating with hearing impaired colleagues and staff is not impossible, it’s just a little different.
Hundreds of hearing impaired candidates have been placed by Enable India in companies such as Thomson Reuters, IBM, ANZ and many many more. Managers, team leaders and colleagues of the hearing impaired have learnt to adjust their communication to INCLUDE people with different types of disabilities, including hearing impairment.
If you know an employer who is ready to interview skilled people, contact EnAble India on 080 4282 3636 or email email@example.com
Author: Julian Tarbox Editor: Dr. Homiyar
(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of EnAble India)