Advancing disability rights and leadership globally®

Recruiting Persons with Disabilities To Your Workplace

People mill around two exhibit tables and speak or sign questions with staff inside a large exhibit hall
People mill around two exhibit tables and speak or sign questions with staff inside a large exhibit hall

From designing exchange programs, organizing conferences, managing grants or promoting better policy, disabled employees can enrich your workplace.

One of the ways to increase the participation of disabled people in international exchange is to make the international education workplace more inclusive of staff with disabilities. NCDE supports organizations looking to build a pipeline of individuals with disabilities in international education. Consider putting into action these tips for recruitment and retention.

Include disability positive language on your website

In your job description, state at the end that people from diverse backgrounds and those with disabilities are encouraged to apply. Include a section of your page discussing accessibility of your organizational offerings including website, seminars and the like. This may not have anything to do with employment policy, but it would send the message that you take disability into account. Try these examples.

  • We encourage people with disabilities and those from other diverse backgrounds to apply.
  • We do not discriminate based on disability.
  • We provide reasonable accommodations as needed to people with disabilities.
  • Our office is wheelchair accessible.

  Focus on required job duties rather than functional abilities

  • Job descriptions that require the ability to type at 60 words per minute, to possess a drivers license, to be able to see a computer screen, or to lift 50 pounds will screen out many otherwise qualified applicants with disabilities. Try requiring the ability to write documents on tight deadlines, or proficiency using a Windows computer. Suggest that reasonable accommodations can be made to enable people with disabilities to perform the essential functions of the job.Make sure that when you list the requirements in a job position that you focus on the end product rather than how it gets done. If you feel that the capacity to lift heavy objects, use a telephone or drive a car cannot be substituted by the ability to delegate, communicate effectively with clients and stakeholders or the ability to travel, revisit whether there is no other way that that particular function could be completed, or if there is no way that it could be traded with another staff member. In the case of personnel who learn their duties on the job such as program officers or grant managers, look for ways to cross train. This will make it easier to trade job duties.


    Conduct targeted outreach to disability communities. Send information about work opportunities in a variety of different formats to disability-related organizations including: Share your jobs on social media and tag disability organizations like The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), Disabled People’s International (DPI) or the National Council On Independent Living (NCIL). [Learn about disability organizations in the United States.]

    Identify organizations dedicated to helping disabled people find jobs, and become a partner employer. Some examples are The Workforce Recruitment Program, Disability-In, Disability Recruit, and Bender Consulting. These organizations have databases of people with disabilities looking for work, and they can help match you with hires that fit what you are seeking. Scroll down to our related links to learn more.

    Make sure that when you connect with career centers at colleges, that you share about your reasonable accommodation and diversity policy.

    Make Your Premises Accessible

    An office space that is open and free of clutter will be more accessible for employees with disabilities. Make sure that bathrooms, entrances, walkways, lunch areas and conference rooms are accessible.

    Be prepared to offer communication access for deaf and hard of hearing employees including sign language interpreters and CART for staff meetings, annual reviews, employee social functions and the like.

    Use accessible software and online resources

    Your website including forms, homepage, pictures and printed materials needs to be accessible. Make sure that your website complies with WCAG accessibility guidelines. Documents distributed in PDF format should have an HTML or Microsoft Word counterpart, and PDFs should also follow Adobe’s accessibility guidelines.

    In the case of websites, many developers regard accessibility as being a secondary feature on the same level as a color scheme, a contact form or a domain name, rather than as an essential feature.

    There are many accessibility consulting services to help you. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is a great place to start. Make sure to budget between 1% and 3% of your resources for accessibility.

    Give applicants multiple ways to express their qualifications

    Managers should create flexibility in interview techniques and formats to offer people multiple ways to express their qualifications. Allow options for video or phone interviews. Make available sign language interpreters, CART along with the option to interview over text chat. If the application includes an on-site project like an exam or a writing assignment, be prepared to offer a way to complete this portion using assistive technology.


    By putting into practice these recruitment tips, you can begin creating a workplace that is more inclusive of people with disabilities and welcoming to all. Learn more about recruitment of people with disabilities by partnering with disabled people’s organizations and don’t hesitate to email us to discuss your recruitment efforts.

    • Disability service offices at university campuses.
    • Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs)
    • Department of Rehabilitation.

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