You want to employ more disabled people? Then make your website accessible

In the last few weeks I have been reading more and more that many companies would like to employ more disabled people but cannot find them. The recommendations are to make the job advertisements more diverse. Well, you can do that, but I don't think it's the solution. What many people fail at, however, is their website.

Often the job boards on websites are not accessible. I often see embedded modules and application processes from external providers, equipped with the latest marketing clicky-fancy. This is the hipster must-have for bored recruiters, so to speak, but not the best if you use a screen reader or zoom. If you don't want to do without it, at least offer that people can just apply by mail. And tell those who sold it that they should do it accessibly. As a provider, you have a duty to offer equal application opportunities for disabled and non-disabled people.

The second best way after an email is a web form. In principle, most applicants will already have their documents in PDF format, with the exception of a cover letter and CV. This means that you can use a simple form to request master data and alternatively have the other documents such as cover letter, CV and references uploaded as one file or as separate files. It is also important to have a success message or error message if something did not work.

The most common error I have seen in application forms are components that are not standard and have not been made accessible. For example, the input fields can be used without any problems, but there is a mandatory select box that cannot be operated by keyboard. Or the documents have to be dragged and dropped into the browser window without a screenreader-compatible alternative. Or there are CAPTCHA's upstream. BTW, design patterns for forms were not invented to be ignored. It remains a mystery why, after more than 20 years of WWW, people are still not able to communicate error messages or mandatory fields properly.

Other possibilities can of course be used. In some cases it seems to be common to be able to apply simply with your XING or LinkedIn profile. For other third-party platforms, as mentioned above, you should either ensure that they are accessible or offer an alternative such as applying by mail.

Job postings should also be accessible. Most organisations are likely to use job boards for this. However, at many universities I have still seen PDF files that were not accessible. PDFs are a media break on the internet, an imposition on mobile devices and difficult to get standards-compliant - get rid of them. There are many other problems such as poorly accessible and usable job boards of organisations mainly in the public sector. The most common mistakes on large job boards are meaningless job titles, a lack of filtering options for many jobs or poorly structured information.

In the end, however, the problem lies elsewhere, namely in your organisation: It may be that the personnel department would like to recruit more disabled people. But does the person in charge of the department or team, who has the final say, also want to do so? In my experience, that is not the case.

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