Written by: Suzanne Tanner
Building a diverse, talented, and local workforce that can take your business to the next level requires you to have an open mind when it comes to individuals with developmental differences. While you are not required to hire unqualified candidates by law, skilled individuals with disabilities can bring a great deal to your company. So don’t miss out on what they can offer! Here are some tips and resources from Unicorn Children’s Foundation to help you get started.
Make It a Wheelchair-Accessible Place
Currently, 2.7 million individuals use wheelchairs in the United States. With so many people with limited mobility in the country, it helps to have a workplace that’s accessible for them.
For instance, if you have steps to enter and exit your building, consider installing a ramp.
Also think about adding other disabled facilities, such as appropriate furniture and lighting, to your workplace. Also be cognizant of doorway and hallway width, and restroom accessibility.
Make It Friendly to Those With Vision Issues
About 12 million Americans over age 40 are visually impaired. Of those individuals, 1 million are blind. You can attract these individuals by adding voice recognition technology. Add signs in Braille throughout the building, so a visually impaired employee can navigate more easily. Install large-print keyboards and screen readers.
Consider Offering Remote Positions
If your company can’t afford to make major renovations, consider offering remote positions whenever possible. Someone with a disability could comfortably work from their own home where changes have already been implemented to accommodate their needs. You can instead offer to buy company-owned equipment that the employee uses from home, such as a keyboard or desk tailored to meet their workday needs.
Create Internships Especially for Individuals with Developmental Differences
When you hire for an internship, you’re giving an individual entry-level experience for their chosen career. Often, an intern can free up your current staff’s time, so they can work on their assigned duties without having any extra work to complete. If you later hire an intern with developmental differences, you may become eligible for a specific tax credit.
Simplify Your Business Processes
As you make changes to your company to accommodate the disabled, you may find your team growing in key ways. Diversity fuels company growth, so it’s vital to take steps to simplify managing your business as much as possible. Plus, by addressing certain issues now, you can remain nimble as you hire new people.
Consider using an accounting program. If you’re currently handling the payroll with a simplistic system or by hand because you have few employees, consider using a program that simplifies the process. It’ll save you time and reduce the possibility of mistakes.
Update Your Website and Recruiting Process
Depending on when you last updated your website, you might not have given much of a thought as to whether or not it was in compliance with ADA standards. That’s something you should definitely address – not just to avoid legal troubles, but more importantly, to demonstrate your respect for the disabled community.
If you plan to hire individuals with mental or physical disabilities, it’s also important to update your recruitment process. For example, make sure your human resources manager is up-to-date on the language to use when hiring an individual with disabilities. This includes words to use when speaking to the individuals in person and writing job descriptions online. In fact, all members of your staff must learn to speak with inclusion. Online diversity training is a convenient and flexible option, or you might want to hire a consultant to work with your staff onsite.
Another great way to help individuals with developmental differences feel welcome at your company is by assisting with moving expenses, or helping them find and get settled into an accessible home – like one of the 101 available in Boca Raton alone.
Having a Strong Staff May Mean Making Changes
Obviously, the goal of any business owner is to get the best employees you can find – and the best way to do so is make sure you’re considering and accommodating people of all backgrounds. Sometimes, that also means updating the business management end of your company so that everyone involved is set up to succeed.
Unicorn Children’s Foundation is dedicated to creating cradle to career pathways for kids and young adults with developmental differences and helping their families navigate the complex journey. If you have any questions, let us know!