Accommodations & The Job Search

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990; it marked a major legislative change in civil rights law.

Basically, the law states that it’s illegal to discriminate against any individual with disabilities and it states that reasonable accommodations are made in areas related to public life.

Laws are subject to interpretation and ADA is no different; therefore, several changes have been made to the legislation since its initial passage.

Anyone in the United States who has a disability knows that the way you are treated depends a lot on the presentation of your disability. This is one of the reasons there’s many forums about invisible disabilities.

How does all of this impact the job search? It depends.

Remember that as a country, we are keen on appearances (gross overgeneralization, but focus) so if you are able to not disclose your disability during the hiring process…maybe at this stage your disability has little impact on your ability to acquire employment.

That’s not necessarily the case, but it’s an argument made a lot when individuals battle for the winner of the “most disabled disabled person” – it really does seem like there’s a competition for such title.

As I read job announcements I notice immediately how the wording alone eliminates a group of individuals who could do the job with reasonable accommodations – if any are necessary – but these individuals are discouraged from even applying

For instance, in the fictional world in my head – there’s a job posting that says that the individual must be able to work long hours while sitting. The individual must be able to communicate effectively via phone and email. The individual must be able to hear and see.

I’ve seen all of these things mentioned in real world job advertisements. Take a step back and think about the array of disabilities…how many individuals are discouraged to even apply because they have to have bathroom breaks, they use specialized phones, hearing aids, or visual aids -other than glasses or contacts, or they need to stand after sitting for so long.

Many employers promote anti-discrimination and equal opportunity, but like the with ADA, policies and practices are not always on the same page.

It’s important that individuals think about the wording of job announcements to decrease the chances of discouraging an otherwise qualified individual who just so happen to have one or more disabilities.

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