Whether you are building a house or always dreamed of doing so picture what you consider it might have. Do you think about a grand staircase, a swimming pool, a large kitchen with an island and industrial oven? Yes? How about a ramp out front so that you can roll your wheel chair into the house if one day you become disabled? What about extra wide doorways so that you don’t scrape your knuckles while you push through? Certainly you must picture the type of support railing you will put on the wall next to your toilet. Oh and what about Braille on the light switches should you one day lose your vision?
You probably don’t consider those things because if you aren’t disabled, you probably give little thought to what you might require if you were. Very similarly when building a software solution, many vendors give small consideration to those who have needs different from theirs. Making software intuitive enough for the general public who have no serious disabilities is hard enough. After all let’s be honest, although stupidity may not be classified as a disability, it is still an impairment many of us who work with technology, including me, have. So while developers spend a great deal of time “idiot proofing” their product, they often don’t consider the myriad of other disabilities that could trip up users such as vision or hearing impairment.
Recently I sat on a panel for a webinar entitled, “New Day Dawning in Affirmative Action – Building Bridges that Work for Everyone,” hosted by affirmative action consultant, Teresa Turner, President of Synchronized Resources. This webinar sought to bring awareness to the increasing need to provide accessibility and accommodations to veterans and the disabled who access tools such as video interviewing and applicant tracking systems during their job search. One of the many things that opened my eyes was who is considered as disabled?
When I hear the word disabled I see a child suffering from a mental impairment, I see a woman without sight, I see a man with a prosthetic leg. What I had not considered was someone with a speech impediment, someone with a learning disability like dyslexia, or someone who simply is color blind. These impairments, though not always noticeable to the general public, could greatly affect an individual’s ability to perform well during a video interview or even when applying online for a job through an ATS. In this regard video interviewing and ATS vendors have some work to do to better accommodate those with unseen disabilities so that they can take advantage of our services.
However I take heart in the notion that while we may have more work to do, video interviewing providers to some extent have also made life easier for those with disabilities. According to the Census Bureau, in 2010 over 56 million people were classified as having a disability. Of these, over 30 million had difficulty walking or climbing stairs or used a wheelchair, cane or crutches. Now of course many of these thirty million are elderly individuals who won’t be asked to take a video interview, but think about the others. If you have trouble with mobility, interviewing for a job from your home’s comfort makes life easier. If you are applying for a job that allows you to work from home but you suffer from a psychological phobia that prevents you from attending a face-to-face interview, then video interviewing from your home makes life easier!
Knock on wood I presently have no disabilities, but through Teresa’s presentation we have learned that as a provider we cannot simply wait for a problem with a disabled person to arise before we do something about it. The good news is, we’re able to.