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The Americans with Disabilities Act applies to job applications as well as to the hiring process. The trend for businesses that are hiring non-skilled workers is to have an assessment attached to their application. The application process may be difficult enough for a potential employee without a disability. Add a long, wordy assessment and you’ve knocked out some fabulous potential workers. The individuals I work with generally have some form of intellectual disability and many also have a physical impairment. These adults may not read or write. How, then, are they able to pass an assessment? For someone with a physical disability, being able to manipulate computer keys may be extremely difficult. Clearbrook has individuals placed in community employment, who are unable to read, but can match and are stocking in stores. They perform exceptionally well at their jobs. Their attitude at work is very positive and they are terrific at customer service. If they had to take the assessment on their own, they may not have been offered an interview. Sometimes, the only accommodation our applicants need is a Clearbrook Job Developer who can rephrase a question if they are unable to understand it.
Many of our job seekers at Clearbrook simply want the employer to interview them instead of having an image of who they perceive this person to be. Yes, working in a big box store requires one to pass a lengthy evaluation. Ironically, the higher the level of job skills, the less likely there will be an assessment to pass before you obtain the interview. Individuals are advised to get help with the assessments, whether it’s one of our job developers or a family member who is helping review the questions with them. However, when one of our job developers contacts the employer, they are honest about it so there is complete transparency from the beginning.
Clearbrook has many individuals with disabilities who identify as disabled and have had to ask for accommodations prior to the interview. For example, one job seeker was non-verbal. The employer was notified in advance that not only was someone accompanying the client on the interview, but the applicant would need the questions before the interview. They were kind enough to give the individual the questions ahead of the interview so the candidate could write his answers and bring them in with him already completed. As a job developer, my goal is always to speak directly to the employer before the interview if possible. Surprising the interviewer with my presence is never my goal. It is always best to call ahead of time and explain who you are and what your role is. Very few employers have refused to allow the job developer to participate in an interview, especially when the job developer explains that it is to support the job seeker, not to engage in the interview process. When the employer has refused, most have been kind and explained their reasoning. It is usually due to a space issue or the employer wanting to assess the applicant without an assistant present. They want to see if they have a connection with this person.
Most employers see the potential of people with disabilities and are able to see the value the applicant can bring to the business.