Discrimination of all kinds is out there, weather we as a society like to believe it or not. The job field is no exception. Many times, potential employees are discriminated against before they even get to an interview, especially if they are candid about their individual situations. People are not hired based on varying factors, and many times they have nothing to do with that person’s qualifications for the job. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to find out an employer’s reasons for not hiring you. Did I dress wrong? Was I confident enough, or too much so?
If you have a disability, this adds a whole new possibility for discrimination. Almost all employers will at least know about the American’s with Disabilities Act. They usually will not outwardly disqualify a disabled applicant for just the reason that they have a disability. This means that they won’t tell you that your disability is the reason they cannot hire you, even though this is often the truth. After all, no one wants a lawsuit. I can’t tell you how many times I have followed up after an interview, only to be put off over and over, then finally told that they filled the position. Some would go as far as to say they really were impressed and I was qualified, but they didn’t know if their equipment or software would be accessible to me. Truth be told they never even tried to find out what technology is out there at all.
Recently, the University Of Iowa Law College has designed a web-based training course for both potential employers, and disabled job applicants. It is free, all you have to do is register and you can have access to the training materials. This is a fantastic idea! Give everyone equal training, prepare both the employer and the applicant for the interview. You can find out what is appropriate to say and how to act positively so that the best outcome is possible.
I signed up and tried to go through the course as a disabled applicant. While the registration process was very easy and went well, the actual course material was inaccessible. The video content is in flash media, but none of the buttons were labeled, so it was difficult to know how to play it. They do offer transcripts of each video sample, which are presented in PDF format. For the most part the PDF documents were accessible, though I did have a few problems with phrases being repeated over and over, and I’m not sure if that is a mistake in the document, or an issue with my adobe reader. It would have been helpful to have an option for audio description of the videos, but not an absolute necessity. I know all of these things can be done. I have seen accessible flash well used and it works beautifully. I think that accessibility is a vital issue for this website! After all, it is there to help people with disabilities. I definitely plan on contacting them and finding out if there is anything Knowbility can do to help their efforts.
So if you are someone with a disability looking for work, or an employer who will be conducting interviews, this course would be very helpful. Just know that if you are blind, you may have difficulty accessing some of the content.