When it comes to ensuring a workplace inclusive of the skills and talents of people with disabilities, however, not all HERC members may know where to start. The HERC Disability Inclusion Toolkit provides a path, addressing 8 important topics and outlining a range of effective strategies higher education institutions can use to effectively employ qualified people with disabilities and foster a disability-inclusive work culture across the organization.
The information in this toolkit will be updated periodically, and HERC members are highly encouraged to suggest additional resources to add, especially as they relate to disability inclusive policies and practices in action at their own institutions.
To get started, choose a topic:
The HERC Disability Inclusion Toolkit is an outcome of HERC’s Alliance with the U. S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)6.10.16. Through this Alliance, HERC works closely with ODEP to promote the recruitment, hiring, retention and advancement of individuals with disabilities, including veterans with disabilities, in higher education through outreach, education and technical assistance activities.
The material and information contained in this toolkit is for general information purposes only and is not designed to take the place of HERC member legal counsel or guidance.
Although the value of fostering a disability inclusive culture is about more than compliance, it is important for higher education human resource professionals to be familiar with various federal disability nondiscrimination laws that may apply to their institutions. These include:
Higher education employers can tap a wide range of training and technical assistance materials to educate institutional leadership and employees about the importance of and strategies for fostering a disability-inclusive work culture. These include:
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Clearly, a disability-inclusive workplace is an accessible workplace. This applies to not only physical accessibility, such as wheelchair ramps, braille signage and accessible restrooms, but also digital accessibility, where information and communication technology is accessible to all and/or compatible with assistive technology devices. The key is to ensure doors are open, whether literally or virtually. Resources include:
Many colleges and universities use internships to fill short-term staffing needs and evaluate potential future staff—especially people who may be new to the workforce. Internships can also help increase disability diversity. In fact, research shows that employers who have interns with disabilities are 4.5 times more likely to hire a person with a disability. A related practice is mentoring, which can also support disability inclusion as well as improve employees’ supervisory skills. Resources include:
Partnering with local disability and workforce development service providers is a key strategy for increasing disability inclusion. In many cases, such organizations can connect institutions with job seekers with disabilities directly or provide access to candidate databases. They may also provide ongoing supports that can assist in effectively bringing people with disabilities on board—and ensuring their success for years to come. Resources for identifying potential partners include:
Disability inclusion is about more than hiring people with disabilities; it is also about retention and advancement including strategies to retain workers who acquire age-related disabilities. Below are resources to assist with fostering inclusion throughout the employment lifecycle:
All employees need the right tools to perform their jobs. Similarly, people with disabilities may need workplace adjustments, or accommodations, to maximize their productivity. Such accommodations may be tangible, such as certain technologies or special chairs or desks, or non-tangible, such as a flexible schedule or option to telecommute. Regardless, most are no or low cost, while yielding considerable benefits through increased retention and productivity. Resources include:
The adoption of disability inclusive policies and procedures is essential, but ultimately, a higher education institution must take steps to ensure their effective implementation. Several self-assessment tools are available that colleges and universities can leverage to benchmark their efforts and measure progress overtime. In addition to providing valuable information about areas for improvement, participation in these tools can help demonstrate a good faith effort to achieve disability inclusion goals.