As an employer, your interest is in finding a reliable and dedicated team, which may include impaired persons. However, before proceeding, you want to know whether they can keep up with the workload and work efficiently or effectively, as well as the legal obligations to adding them to your team.
While doing all this, you still want your business to be profitable, but is this possible?
U.S. population statistics reveal that 44% of persons with a visual impairment are employed, and 10% of people with a visual impairment in the labor force are unemployed.
With these numbers too low, there’s a need to do more, and we give you details on hiring workers with a visual impairment.
Why Is Hiring the Blind and Visually Impaired the Best Decision?
While many employers shy from persons with disabilities, hiring the blind and visually impaired is the best decision for your organization for the following reasons:
- Increased productivity: Unlike popular belief, visually impaired persons are highly productive and efficient courtesy of their reliance on alternative technology and communication methods. With the right accommodations, these people can perform similar activities to their sighted colleagues with a higher degree of accuracy and attention.
- Enhanced creativity: In addition to their productivity, most visually impaired persons are highly skilled at creative thinking and problem-solving, as they have to develop alternatives to processing information.
- Employee loyalty: A company that commits to inclusivity will likely retain its employees long term, as they’ll feel valued, supported, and motivated to do their best.
- Improved customer service: For companies working with the public, employing visually impaired persons will be a smart strategy in offering a unique perspective to customer service, improving empathy and communication with customers with different impairments.
- Broaden your talent pool: Hiring visually impaired workers will give you access to skilled and motivated employees often overlooked by other employers, giving you a competitive advantage.
What to Know About Hiring Blind and Visually Impaired Employees
Here’s what you need to know about hiring blind and visually impaired employees.
An accessible application process sends a message to your potential employees that you’re an equal opportunity employer. If visually impaired persons struggle with the application process due to accessibility, they’ll be discouraged and avoid applying altogether.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) features certain requirements for testing job applicants with disabilities. These requirements include:
- Test results reflect applicants’ knowledge, skills, aptitude, and job-related factors.
- The test administration should be the same as that of all other applicants unless an applicant’s disability interferes.
- The tests must have alternative formats accommodating specific disabilities unless the specific testing method is critical to the job or evaluation process.
- As an employer, announce that the testing is mandatory beforehand, and print the notification on the invitation letter, the application form, or other recruitment communications.
- With advance notification, applicants can request their applications before arriving or after arriving at the interview site or test.
Design Your Interviews with Disability in Mind
Designing your interviews with visually impaired persons in mind requires you to prepare to give accommodations during the interview, such as written materials in accessible formats and embracing the use of assistive technology. During the interview, identify yourself and your panel, and describe the interview setting. In in-person interviews, helping candidates take their seat before the interview begins is also advisable.
You can do this by placing their hand on the arm or back of the seat.
Completely blind candidates may not see your hand or body language, so stretch yours and let them know if you want to shake their hand. Also, let them know when the interview is over so they can move their location.
Finally, avoid sharp light and darkness contrasts, as their vision may change depending on the lighting, and in case they need to sign forms, offer assistance in filling them out.
Create a Safe Workplace
Visually impaired employees are at risk of slip and fall accidents at the workplace. Therefore, you can create a safe workplace for them by embracing the following practices:
- Remove clutter like boxes, bags, and bins to prevent tripping.
- Avoid trailing wires from one desk to another.
- Consider the room layout—create straight paths so they’re easier to navigate.
- Use tactile objects such as rails to guide your visually impaired employees along the walls.
- Have signage that’s big enough to see any inaccessible positions.
Provide Assistive Technologies
Assistive technology aims to help persons with disabilities live more comfortably and independently by enabling them to perform tasks they would otherwise not be able to do. Therefore, use screen readers, braille, and magnification software to access online job portals, complete applications, and create résumés.
Ensure Equal Opportunities for Career Development
Employers should offer equal opportunities to persons with disabilities when hiring and working. Managers can advertise on websites and publications designated for persons with disabilities, partner with organizations advancing jobseekers with disabilities, or run their hiring ads through these organizations. Managers should also make the ads accessible using audio and ensure the job descriptions don’t discourage visually impaired persons from applying for jobs.
After hiring, managers should encourage disabled persons to apply for top internal positions when they arise as long as they have the qualifications. To speed up their career growth, managers can attach their visually impaired persons to mentors within the organization who will train them to make it easy to climb the career ladder.
Expect Talented People and Creative Solutions
Diversity fuels innovation, and what better way to embrace this than hiring people who are visually impaired or blind? By tapping into this talent, organizations can tap into unique insights and creative solutions.
Create an Inclusive Hiring Process
Besides being the right thing to do from a moral standpoint, hiring persons with disabilities is also beneficial to your organization. By creating an inclusive workplace, you will attract top talent, increase productivity, and enhance your business reputation.
Therefore, consider creating a safe workplace, schedule interviews with the specially abled in mind, and ensure equal opportunities for career development in an inclusive workplace.
David Gevorkian is the CEO/Founder of Be Accessible. He started the company because of his passion for website accessibility and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance. He spent much of his career working for financial institutions, creating websites and mobile applications, and earned his master’s in business administration from Salve Regina University in Rhode Island. He is an advocate for creating Web interfaces that are usable by all people and enjoys recording music and playing soccer with friends.