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Why Accessible ICT is Important for Employers’ Recruiting Efforts

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Finding suitable talent is no easy task for anyone in today’s ever-changing economy, but adding a disability into the mix makes that task even harder. Many employers miss out on the talents and capabilities of qualified applicants with disabilities, simply because their job boards and online recruiting sites are not accessible to individuals with disabilities. Online recruiting of employees using the Internet is a growing market with a lot of potential. Studies have shown that e-recruitment revenues topped $ 2.6 billion in 2007.¹

Online recruitment is defined as: “the use of any technology to attract, select or manage the recruitment process.” Online recruiting has fundamentally changed the way businesses recruit new employees. It has allowed more companies to take advantage of new technologies and, at the same time, provide increased opportunities for a diverse group of people to join the workforce. This is especially true for job applicants with disabilities.

However, without accessible information and communication technologies (ICT), qualified applicants with disabilities will be left out of the online recruiting process. With many HR professionals using online recruiting to evaluate applicants, it has the potential to revolutionize the job search and application process for individuals with disabilities as it makes it possible to easily browse job listings and submit resumes from home, or from publicly accessible locations, such as libraries.²

A 2001 survey conducted by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), indicated that 88% of the managers surveyed, used web recruiting to evaluate and hire potential applicants.³  It’s important for human resource managers to understand how disability may affect an individual’s ability to access the web and avert any potential difficulties that exists for individuals with disabilities in completing the online application process or simply search for jobs.

For applicants with visual disabilities, if an online jobsite does not provide alternate text for symbols or video descriptions, an applicant potentially using a screen reader for example, will not be able to register with the job board or submit a job search successfully as their screen reader will not be able to read or understand the information on the page. This often forces the applicant to start the process over as critical information regarding the completion of their online application or job search is misinterpreted or skipped altogether by screen readers.⁴

Potential applicants with hearing difficulties are often unable to use online recruiting sites due to the lack of captioning provided for audio. In many cases, critical background information provided online about a potential company or business that does not provide captioning, often leads to missed information for the applicant as well as a missed opportunity to target a qualified applicant with a disability. Ultimately, online recruiting sites and job boards attract a more diverse group, including- individuals with disabilities when there is a consistent navigational process for completing applications, screen reader accessibility, captioning, information is provided in an easily-understood format and the layout of the information is organized with illustrations where necessary.⁵ 

Each feature of the online application system should be reviewed to determine whether it is accessible through the company’s website. This will ensure that people with disabilities can access it effectively. Most importantly, employers will be tapping into the talents of one of the most underrepresented groups in the nation.⁶ Accessible ICT for diversity recruiting should be the norm, not the exception.

Disclaimer: The content of the ICT Blog does not serve as an endorsement of any commercial product or service, but rather an outlet to share information and opinions about accessible information and communication technologies.

¹ Advancing e-Recruiting Service Offering: Innovation through ICT (accessed May 5, 2015); available from
  http://referaat.cs.utwente.nl/conference/13/paper/7205/advancing-e-recruiting-service-offering-innovation
  -through-ict.pdf
² Advancing e-Recruiting Service Offering: Innovation through ICT (accessed May 5, 2015); available from
  http://referaat.cs.utwente.nl/conference/13/paper/7205/advancing-e-recruiting-service-offering-innovation
  -through-ict.pdf
³ A Review of Selected E-Recruiting Websites: Disability Accessibility Considerations (accessed May 5, 2015);
  available from http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1094&context=edicollect
⁴ A Review of Selected E-Recruiting Websites: Disability Accessibility Considerations (accessed May 5, 2015);
  available from http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1094&context=edicollect
⁵ A Review of Selected E-Recruiting Websites: Disability Accessibility Considerations (accessed May 5, 2015);
  available from http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1094&context=edicollect
⁶ Framework for Designing and Implementing Accessible Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
  Strategic Plans (accessed May 5, 2015); available from http://www.dol.gov/odep/pdf/20120224FDIA-ICT-
  StrategicPlans.pdf

Beatrice Schmidt

Beatrice Schmidt

Corporate Services Specialist

Beatrice Schmidt joined the National Business & Disability Council (NBDC) at The Viscardi Center in September 2014. As a licensed social worker and a graduate of Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, with experience in the field as well as her diagnosis with cerebral palsy at the age of 6 months, Schmidt has extensive knowledge on the service delivery system, individual and family advocacy, as well as inclusive emergency planning for people with disabilities. As a self-advocate, she believes in the motto shared by the late Mattie Stepanek, “remember to play after every storm.”

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