Disability Guidelines (US) - Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions Disability Guidelines
Please see below a list of frequently asked questions around the disability guidelines.
The following definition is summarized from the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) in relation to providing employment. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, State and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation. It also mandates the establishment of TDD/telephone relay services.
The definition of disability under the ADA is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. So when determining whether an employee has a disability, you need to know:
If an impairment is on the EEOC’s list of conditions (see below) and if the condition is not on this list, consider the following questions:
- Consider how limited the employee would be without any mitigating measures (except for glasses and contact lenses).
- If needed, consider the condition, manner, or duration in which an employee performs or, for candidates, would perform a major life activity.
The definition of disability is broad so if you are not sure whether an employee or candidate has a disability, err on the side of caution and process the accommodation request. “EEOC List of Conditions: The following impairments are examples, but not exclusive of impairments that should be easily found to be substantial limiting a major life activity:
- Deafness substantially limits hearing.
- Blindness substantially limits seeing.
- An intellectual disability (formerly mental retardation) substantially limits brain function.
- Partially or completely missing limbs or mobility impairments requiring the use of a wheelchair substantially limit musculoskeletal function.
- Autism substantially limits brain function.
- Cancer substantially limits normal cell growth.
- Cerebral palsy substantially limits brain function.
- Diabetes substantially limits endocrine function.
- Epilepsy substantially limits neurological function.
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection substantially limits immune function.
- Multiple sclerosis substantially limits neurological function.
- Muscular dystrophy substantially limits neurological function.
- Major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia substantially limit brain function.
You can find more information on our page about disability definition.
Any candidate should be invited to ask for an accommodation that they require at the earliest opportunity during their application process. That, however, must be done carefully. You need to be aware that research shows that the majority of candidates with disabilities do not disclose their disability through a fear of discrimination in the recruitment process. As a result you need to give candidates confidence that declaring a disability or need for an accommodation early in the process will not result in any discrimination and in fact will enable you as a prospective employer to ensure that they have the best opportunity to demonstrate their suitability for the role. Further, from a legal perspective, if you intend to ask applicants whether they need an accommodation in the employment process or on the job, you must do that for all candidates. However, if the candidate raises the disability or accommodation question, then you do not need to ask others.
When candidates declare that they need an adjustment based on a disability, the first thing you should do is to ask them what they consider a reasonable accommodation. They will be most familiar with the best way of dealing with their disability. In many cases, this will lead to a very straightforward adjustment or accommodation, which will be appropriate for the candidate and enable you to get a reasonable assessment of their capabilities.
You can find more information on our page about reasonable accommodations.
What can SHL do to help us when we need to assess an individual who has told us about a disability or condition?
We provide a number of options that can be considered with the candidate according to the disability and nature of the assessment. For example by providing:
- Additional time on some assessments
- Large format materials
- Printing on color paper
- Adjustment of font size
- Adjustment of font type
- Materials in Word format
- Materials in braille (through a third party)
- A sighted reader (through a third party)
- Interpreters (American Sign Language – through a third party)
- Work sample (this would be something done by yourselves but can be discussed with the Duty Consultant for advice)
- Working interview
The support or equipment a candidate may already have in place, such as assistive technology, equipment including colored overlays, or a personal assistant will be considered when discussing appropriate accommodation options with us.
We are currently the only provider able to offer guidance and specialist support around adjustments to tools and services, including at least one accommodation option for each assessment across the core areas of disability outlined in this guidance. We give support to both employers and candidates. We are also focused on making sure our technology is compliant with accessibility regulations and disability recommendations, with the intention of making our customer assessment system fully accessible. We are also focused on making sure our technology is compliant with US, UK and EU accessibility regulations and disability recommendations, with the intention of making our customer assessment system fully AbilityNet accredited.
My organisation uses assessments because they are objective and therefore inclusive, why do we need to do anything else?
This is a common perception but not a safe assumption. Some objective assessments may not be inclusive due to barriers the candidate may face in accessing or completing the assessment. A good example would be a candidate with a visual impairment who cannot access an on-line assessment due to its technology not being compatible with the screen reader they use. This is an easy one to overcome. We are working with AbilityNet to become the first assessment provider with an accessible platform. While that is happening, we have a comprehensive range of accommodation options including off-line assessments, reader support, and a growing bank of audio-based assessments. Using assistive technology, it is highly likely the candidate will have access to standard programs such as Excel or Word but may not be able to demonstrate their abilities due to other technology that gets in the way.
No. You are not allowed to ask the candidate or employee if they have a disability. You can ask if they wish for an accommodation, but you have to do that consistently. Further, if an employee or candidate offers that he or she has a disability or asks for an accommodation, then you can offer additional support via an accommodation. Our intention at SHL is to ensure that if a candidate needs an accommodation, you are aware of it and can communicate with us about an effective and workable solution. We encourage you to provide reasonable accommodations but do not ask about details or the nature of the disability unless required to evaluate the requested accommodation.
You should never ask an individual to disclose that they have a disability; however, it is okay to ask them if they need an accommodation. Our intention at SHL is to ensure that if a candidate needs an accommodation, you are aware of it and can communicate with us about an effective and workable solution. If the candidate or employee requests an accommodation we encourage you to ask about and, where relevant, agree on reasonable accommodation requirements. On some occasions, you may end up needing to inquire about any details or the nature of the disability, but that must be done carefully and within the legal requirements of the law.
Reasonable accommodations are not about lowering the bar and this is not the intention behind offering accommodations to the tools and services we provide. Reasonable accommodations will ensure that a candidate can access the assessment and perform at their best in order to determine if they are the right candidate for you. For example, by making sure a person with dyslexia has a longer time to complete a timed verbal ability test or that a visually impaired candidate can use a screen reader when completing a questionnaire.
I have heard that some candidates may lie about being disabled in order to get extra time on tests, is that right?
In the UK, The ClearSurvey 2011 confirmed that over 74% of candidates who completed the research stated they would not disclose their disability for fear of not getting the job. There are always those who will try to cheat the system; robust processes and good messaging can reduce the risk of this. We are happy to discuss this further with our clients. However, the idea is not to try to collect evidence of the individual’s disability. Instead, it is about considering the need for any accommodation, checking with the candidate that it will reduce their disadvantage.
Why should we care about this advice and the regulations around candidates with disabilities? We don't have candidates with disabilities applying for our positions. Hiring and assessing individuals with disabilities are not an issue. We have tried; we even put on our advertisements that we are an equal opportunity employer.
With 1 in 5 of the US working population having a disability, you will have candidates with disabilities applying for positions. They may just not be telling you about it, plus remember many disabilities are not visible. If you need advice on ways to increase the numbers of qualified candidates with disabilities that are applying for your positions we can introduce you to a third party such as the USBLN who may be able to offer you further advice.
If individuals don't share information about their disability with us, we can't help them so why do we need to do more around this?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires reasonable accommodations to be made for individuals with disabilities in relation to employment. If you know – or could reasonably be expected to know (for example, during the interview it is obvious that a candidate is blind, deaf or a wheel chair user.) that a candidate has a disability, you should seek to find out how you can help them and whether there are reasonable accommodations you can provide. Unless you have given the candidate ample opportunity and the right environment to request accommodations, they are unlikely to provide this information and it could result in an ADA discrimination complaint. So long as accommodations are reasonable, you should put them in place even if they are requested at the last minute or after the event.