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A D A Wisconsin Employment Link Newsletter:  Linking Employers to Workplace Solutions.

Issue 1, Vol 1, February 2009

The ADA Wisconsin Partnership is a coalition of people with disabilities, businesses, and government entities supported by Great Lakes Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center, WorkSource Wisconsin, and Employment Resources, Inc. More information about the ADA Wisconsin Partnership.

Send your questions, comments, or suggestions to ada@eri-wi.org. Or Join Our Mailing List.

Interviewing & Hiring a Person for their Ability to do the Job


Photo of Tammy LiddicoatBy Tammy Liddicoat, Employment Resources, Inc.

As any employer knows, a number of essential steps must be taken when recruiting, interviewing, and hiring applicants for a position. From the first step to the last, it is important to ensure that all qualified job seekers have an opportunity to apply, interview, and win a position within the company—regardless of any disability. Improving access for job seekers widens the pool of qualified candidates, which benefits both the employer and the employees.

Below are some tips to guide employers in creating a hiring process that is inclusive of all qualified job seekers.

Announcing the Job Opening & Accepting Applications:

Before the interview:

At the Interview:

Interviewing Image

Medical Exams:

Remember:

  1. Treat a person with a disability with the same respect you would treat any candidate whose skills you are seeking. Hold all applicants, including applicants with disabilities, to the same standards.
  2. When determining whether a candidate is qualified, consider only the essential functions of the position that are listed in the job description. A qualified worker is someone who can perform the essential job functions with or without accommodations.

Finding Help:

A number of resources can assist employers in understanding their responsibilities relative to interviewing job applicants with disabilities.

Job Accommodation Network (JAN) | Employment Fact Sheet
1-800-526-7234 (V/TTY)
JAN is a free, confidential service from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) that provides information on job accommodations for people with disabilities, the employment provisions of the ADA, and other related legislation.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
1-800-669-4000 (V) | 1-800-669-6820 (TTY)
The EEOC enforces the ADA’s employment provisions. The section of its website titled “Disability Discrimination” provides access to resources that can answer employers’ questions about how to ensure their hiring process is inclusive of people with disabilities.

Great Lakes Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center (DBTAC)
1-800-949-4232 (V/TTY)
The DBTAC: Great Lakes ADA Center provides information, materials, technical assistance, and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Topics addressed includes the non-discrimination requirements in employment, the obligations of state and local governments and business to ensure that their programs, services, and activities are readily accessible to and useable by people with disabilities.

Employer Assistance and Recruiting Network (EARN)
1-866-EARN-NOW (1-866-327-6669) (V/TTY)
EARN is a free, confidential service from ODEP that connects employers seeking workers with qualified candidates with disabilities and offers technical assistance to employers on issues relating to hiring and employing individuals with disabilities.

U.S. Department of Labor: Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)

The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) provides national leadership on disability employment policy by developing and influencing the use of evidence-based disability employment policies and practices, building collaborative partnerships, and delivering authoritative and credible data on employment of people with disabilities.

Following are some useful fact sheets:

Accommodations from an Employee Perspective

Melissa Misagadis is a case manager at a non-profit organization in Madison, WI. She received her master's degree in Rehabilitation Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Melissa has worked with people with disabilities for several years, and is a person with a disability herself. We talked to Melissa about accommodations during the job application and hiring process.

ERI: Melissa, let's talk about some ways that employers can actively level the playing field for job applicants with disabilities. One important factor is the location of the interview. What types of things make it inaccessible for people with physical disabilities?

Photo of Melissa MisagadisMelissa Misagadis (MM): Physical barriers are a big issue from my point of view as a dwarf. One time I had a job interview, the weather had been really bad so even getting in and out of my car was an issue. Employers should make sure that the handicap parking spot is clean and clear of snow and ice. I put all of my weight on my crutches and crutches on ice can be a problem. So that's one thing. And then getting into the building is another. Where I interviewed, there were 13 stairs to get up to the building. I didn't know that beforehand so I couldn't carry my portfolio or anything with me, because I had to worry about getting up all of these steps. This would not have been a problem if the employer had initially directed me to an accessible entrance. They should also make sure that they have a automatic door opener button so that the doors open.

ERI: How did it make you feel when you went into the interview thinking that you were prepared, and then there were barriers?

MM: I felt like I had a disadvantage. I had everything with me and then at the last minute I realized, "Okay, there are 13 steps and I can't carry my stuff up there."

ERI: Do you feel comfortable communicating your needs to the employer or interviewer?

MM: I feel comfortable asking for help. At my last interview, they were great about helping me out. I haven't really had anyone that wasn't really okay with it. However, I feel like they might think, "This person is going to need help all the time and maybe they won't be a good candidate for this job." I would like to think that employers don't look at those things—that they would give me a chance even though I needed help during the hiring process.

ERI: Why not?

MM: I think sometimes people get scared of the amount of accommodations they think someone needs whether it's true or not. Most of us who have been disabled our entire lives, we know how to compensate and deal with it, but it's usually other peoples' attitudes that get in the way. And that can be frustrating. In reality, most accommodations are simple and inexpensive.

Photo of Melissa at work.ERI: A new trend in hiring processes is internet-based application submission and personality tests. How has this trend affected people with disabilities?

MM: A lot of the people that I have worked with do not have ready access to the internet, or have not used a computer before. They are required to provide an email address, which they often don't have. Some people aren't good test-takers.

ERI: As a person with a physical disability, have you personally run into problems with web applications?

MM: I've been asked questions I don't feel comfortable with. I applied for a cashier job once, which is something I could totally do with a step stool. But the online questionnaire asked me, can I lift, can I reach, and so on. I'm not going to answer those questions because I know right away the application software is going to boot me out, without considering that accommodations can easily be made. I can't believe those applications are used in 2009. It doesn't take the individual into consideration.

ERI: What can employers do?

MM: The manager should be more open to accepting alternative forms of applications. I don't want to hear, "Go take the test and we'll get back to you." If a manager is going to be like that, then you probably don't want a job there anyway. People with disabilities are going to be invisible to them. Even though it's the law to allow reasonable accommodations, managers don't always treat people the right way, unfortunately.

ERI: What can individuals do when they come up against unfair application processes?

MM: I don't think there is any reason why a person should be hesitant about asking to see a manager, or HR staff. Don't let them brush you off, and don't back down. It's hard, I'm not going to say it's not.

ERI: Have you ever had any really good experiences with the hiring process? Maybe a situation where you didn't expect an employer to be accommodating and they were?

MM: I can honestly say that for me personally, this has happened in almost every position I've applied for. I'm lucky for that.

Stay tuned for part two of this interview in which we will discuss issues related to Interviewing, Disclosure, and Arranging Accommodations.

Ask the ADA Experts


Ask your ADA Questions.Question: If a job applicant or employee chooses to disclose a disability to an employer, what may the employer ask about the applicant’s disability?

Answer: Once an employer knows about an individual’s disability, if the employer reasonably believes that an applicant may need a reasonable accommodation, the employer may ask whether an accommodation is needed, and if so, what type of accommodation will be needed. The employer’s questions must focus on the reasonable accommodation, not the applicant’s underlying condition. The employer’s questions may not address reasonable accommodations unrelated to job functions. Any employer inquiry must be limited to determining the existence of an ADA disability and the functional limitations that require reasonable accommodation(s).

Do you have a question about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or Accessible Information Technology (AIT)? The DBTAC: Great Lakes ADA Center can answer most questions you have immediately and will research and return your call on complex questions if necessary. They may also be able to provide you with expert referrals for disability issues, which are not addressed by the ADA.

Technical Assistance is available from the DBTAC: Great Lakes ADA Center Monday through Friday, from 8:00am to 4:30pm Central Time at 800-949-4232 (V/TTY), or you may submit your comments, questions, and requests online and you will receive a response within 3 business days.

Local Tools and Resources

Following are resources for employers focusing on employing people with disabilities.

DBTAC: Great Lakes ADA Center

Great Lakes Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center (DBTAC)

1-800-949-4232 (V/TTY)
The DBTAC: Great Lakes ADA Center provides information, materials, technical assistance, and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Topics addressed includes the non-discrimination requirements in employment, the obligations of state and local governments and business to ensure that programs, services, and activities are readily accessible to and useable by people with disabilities. Visit them online at Great Lakes ADA Center.



WorkSource Wisconsin

Worksource Wisconsin

Provides information and successful practices used by employers in Wisconsin to enhance employing persons with disabilities. Contact Charlie George, (Employment Resource Specialist) at 1-866-460-9602 or email: employment-specialist@worksourcewi.com. Visit them online at www.worksourcewi.com.


2009 Training & Education Events


ADA Audio Conference Series

The ADA Audio Conference Series provides in-depth information on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Accessible Information Technology and other related topics. This program is designed as a springboard to enhance an individual's existing knowledge base or facilitate continued learning regarding regulations and trends under the ADA. Get more information at ADA Audio Conference Series (www.ada-audio.org).


Legal Issues Webinar Series: Employment and the ADA

This program is designed for individuals who have a working knowledge of the ADA and are familiar with its basic elements. Sessions are intended to support continued learning and focus on the knowledge that has been gained since the implementation of the law in terms of how the federal agencies and the courts are interpreting the law and subsequent regulations. To learn more and to register visit: Legal Issues Webinar Series (www.ada-audio.org/Webinar/ADALegal).


Disability Law Lowdown Podcasts

The Disability Law Lowdown podcasts will deliver the latest in disability law information every other week. Listeners can subscribe to the podcasts to have shows automatically delivered to them. Access these very informative podcasts at Disability Law Podcasts (http://dll.ada-podcast.com).


Accessible Technology Webinar Series

The goal of the series is to increase awareness on technology accessibility for people with disabilities. To learn more visit: Accessible Technology Webinar Series (http://www.ada-audio.org/Webinar/AccessibleTechnology).


ADA Basic Building Blocks

The ADA Basic Building Blocks is an introductory web course that explores the legal requirements and the spirit of the ADA. The course content is self-paced and organized into 12 topics that have been designed to be studied in order. It covers the basic principles and core concepts contained in the ADA. Register for the ADA Building Blocks Course (www.adabasics.org).


ADA Title II Tutorial

This free tutorial available at www.adacourse.org/title2 was developed by the DBTAC National Network of ADA Centers to provide education and resources on the requirements applicable to State and Local government under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Approved for 0.3 CEU and 3 CRCC clock hours. For more information, visit ADA Title II Tutorial (www.adacourse.org/title2).


WorkSource Wisconsin Employer Trainings and Events

WorkSource WisconsinWorkSource Wisconsin was developed as a resource for employers by employers to provide easy access to the information necessary to actively recruit, hire, and retain employees with disabilities. WorkSource Wisconsin offers free or low cost statewide trainings in a variety of employment-related topics.


The Employer’s Guild on Disability and Employment

Sponsored By: WorkSource Wisconsin; Co-Sponsored by Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board and ADA Wisconsin Partnership

Topics:

Dates and Locations: This training is being offered at several locations:

April 30th, 2009 – Janesville, WI
Time: 8:00 am – 12:30 pm
Location: Best Western Janesville
3900 Milton Avenue
Janesville, Wisconsin 53546

May 21, 2009 – New Richmond, WI
Time: 8:00 – 12:30
Location: Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC) Cashman Center
1019 South Knowles Avenue
New Richmond, WI 54017

June 18, 2009 – Wausau, WI
Time: 8:00 – 12:30
Location: Stoney Creek Inn & Conference Center
1100 Imperial Ave.
Rothschild, WI 54474

Cost: Free

Contact: Charlie George
WorkSource Wisconsin
University of Wisconsin-Stout
1-866-460-9602

Registration: Register online or find more information.

Check out their 2009 Training and Events Calendar.



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More Information:

ADA Wisconsin PartnershipThe ADA Wisconsin Partnership provides information, materials, technical assistance, and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This newsletter will address inclusionary work practices, non-discrimination provisions in employment, the obligations of state and local governments and business to ensure that programs, services, and activities are readily accessible to and useable by people with disabilities.

The ADA Wisconsin Partnership is not responsible for the enforcement of the ADA. The information, materials, and technical assistance, including information contained in this newsletter, are intended solely as informational guidance and are neither a determination of your legal rights or responsibilities under the Act, nor binding on any agency with enforcement responsibility under the ADA.

Send your questions, comments, or suggestions to ada@eri-wi.org. Or Join Our Mailing List.

ADA Wisconsin Partners:  Employment Resources, Inc., WorkSource Wisconsin, and Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center: Great Lakes ADA Center





The ADA Wisconsin Partnership is a coalition of people with disabilities, businesses, and government entities supported by Great Lakes Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center (GLDBTAC), WorkSource Wisconsin, and Employment Resources, Inc.