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October 18, 2021

Identifying Recruiting Barriers for Students with Disabilities

In a world designed for people without disabilities, students with disabilities face structural barriers to recruitment success. You can more effectively recruit these students by identifying these barriers and taking steps to remove them. 

Physical and Material Barriers

For students with disabilities impacting their movement, sight, or hearing, physical and material barriers can make full participation in recruiting impossible. 

“I had talked to the company prior and I explained to them that I had a disability,” one student said in an interview with Veris Insights. “When I went to the interview, there was no elevator, you had to walk up and down the stairs. So right then and there, that was an immediate disqualification.”

Other examples of material barriers include:

  1. Inaccessible transportation to a job or interview location 
  2. Small and unreadable print on business cards
  3. Information presented in audio-only format
  4. Inaccessible websites or online forms
  5. Interactive information (e.g. QR codes) only available in inaccessible formats
  6. Online assessments without consistently accessible versions

Intangible Barriers

At the same time, many barriers preventing students with disabilities from fully engaging in campus recruiting are intangible or harder to notice by individuals without disabilities. 

While these can impact students with physical or visible disabilities, they can also significantly impact students with invisible disabilities or neurodiverse students

In interviews with Veris Insights, students with disabilities described encountering hiring practices that unintentionally screened for secondary skills that were unnecessary for job success. 

For example, a neurodiverse student described their experience applying for jobs that had writing-intensive applications, but didn’t require writing skills for the actual role.

There’s definitely a hurdle I feel … having to write a bunch of different short-answer questions in applications,” the student explained. “It was such a big roadblock for me … it’s not the best outlet for me to represent who I am.”

Ultimately, the student thrived when recruiting in person, where they could demonstrate their skills in a format that accommodated their neurodiversity. 

Other intangible barriers to recruiting success include:

  1. Additional time to get processes in place for accommodations, or a “time tax”
  2. Lack of response to requests for accommodations
  3. AI scoring of assessments that may penalize physical or cognitive differences

Recognizing these barriers and how they prevent students with disabilities from fully engaging in recruiting is the first step towards creating a fully accessible, inclusive recruiting practice. 


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