Video Interviewing & The Disabled: Do You Need An Accommodation?

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Last month I had the opportunity to sit on a panel with three lovely women at the National ILG conference in Washington D.C. to talk about video interviewing and the disabled.  Our session “Access, Accommodations & Video Interview” discussed best practices associated with video interviews to ensure inclusion and full compliance as it relates to issues of accessibility.

Through previous discussions with fellow panel member Teresa Turner of Synchronized handicap sign minus fineResources Inc., I was exposed to a whole new meaning of what “disabled” can really mean.  For example, and I have discussed this before in a previous post, as a video interviewing provider I failed to consider many of the hidden disabilities such as autism or speech impediments.  Quite logically someone who is vision or hearing impaired might not be asked by an employer to complete a video interview but surely someone with an unseen disability such as obsessive compulsive disorder or Aspergers syndrome might.

What obstacles might an individual with an unseen disability face when trying to complete a virtual interview? For starters when the virtual interview begins the candidate will have a limited amount of time to read the questions that appear on the screen before they must begin providing their recorded response.  Generally this time could range from five to fifteen seconds.  Settings are dependent upon each hiring company’s preferences.  Once the candidate begins responding they may have only ninety seconds or less to answer the question.  This might not be an issue for many but some, say an individual with dyslexia that might have trouble understanding the question, might require more time than the average interview taker to read and process the question.  Additionally an individual with a speech impediment may require more time to provide their response than is commonly allotted to individuals during the company’s hiring process.

So what are candidates who require an “accommodation” to do? The video interview invitation that our service emails a candidate explains what will be expected of them.  The candidate is told up front how much time they will be permitted to answer each question and how many questions will be asked.  At this point the candidate could be given the option to contact someone if they require an accommodation.  The hiring company can then grant allowances which better enable the candidate to complete the interview.  These allowances might include extending the response time, allowing the candidate to answer and then re-answer the question or a recommendation to the candidate that someone assist them during the virtual interview process.

This last suggestion might be appropriate when working with a candidate who is visually impaired for example. We had the opportunity of providing our video interviewing service to a visually disabled individual looking for a job.  This opportunity allowed us to learn how to better serve people with his disability.  What we learned is that though most visually impaired individuals have special screen reading software that reads text on a website, most commercial sites on the web haven’t been optimized to fully work with screen readers.  To be clearer, the screen reading program might be unable to read a good portion of the instruction on the screen, especially if that information is delivered through a picture or graphic rather than text.  This oversight could leave a visually impaired person uninformed and very frustrated.  We as a video interviewing vendor have learned a valuable lesson here and one we seek to rectify.  We are research ways to provide individuals with disabilities the means to raise their hand and ask for an accommodation.

Whether you are physically disabled, mentally disabled or technologically disabled, employers and their video interviewing vendors should make every attempt to provide equal footing in the hiring process to individuals with disabilities.

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