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One in five Aussies identify as having some type of disability, so if you own a business with employees, you'll undoubtedly interview an individual with a disability at some point. Giving this cohort of people a chance in the workplace isn't just the right thing to do, but it's also the SMART thing to do, considering the current competitive marketplace and skills shortages!

So, why do people refrain from hiring people with disabilities in the first place? Because there's still a misconception that these people aren't able to perform their duties to the same extent as everyone else, but this couldn't be further from the truth. With technology and innovative design improving the ability of most people to work, regardless of their disabilities, there are now very few barriers to performance.

Another misconception is that people with disabilities will cost more to employ due to workplace adjustments, or that they will be more difficult to manage, but again, these are unfounded. The Australian Government's Employment Assistance Fund offers financial assistance to workplaces who employ people with a disability and there are also many other avenues - such as grants - to ensure that implementing technology and workplace design doesn't incur a cost. People with disabilities have also been shown to be more reliable, learning their tasks with equal speed and efficiency and taking fewer sick days.

Furthermore, because the traditional barriers to performance are removed by technology and design, you'll no longer find people with disabilities who are willing to work for less than their able-bodied counterparts. It all boils down to this: If a person (with or without the help of technology) is able to perform the duties required for the job, then hire them! Frankly, there's no longer an excuse not to hire from this group!

To ensure your business presents itself as an equal opportunity workplace and makes it easy for people with disabilities to transition, you should:

  • Ensure your information is accessible by all, using a variety of formats for vision and hearing impaired individuals.
  • Ensure job descriptions state what needs to be achieved, not what you need to get there. For example, you could say "produces exceptional written work on time", instead of "types at X words per minute".
  • Make a great first impression by ensuring that people who disclose a disability prior to interviews are catered to.
  • Avoiding questions about an applicant's disabilities unless it's relevant to the position.
  • Foster a flexible workplace, where - for example - a person with a disability can take a break, but catch up later.
  • Ensure you make all necessary adjustments to your workplace if you employ a person with a disability and include them in the implementation.
  • Keep your mind open and use empathy, not sympathy.

If you or someone you know is interested in employment with Calamity, please click here to apply.