As part of our all-encompassing program at the DirectEmployers 2015 Annual Meeting & Conference (DEAM15) this past May, we had the honor of having Josh Christianson and Joiwind Ronen from the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) speak to our attendees. The goal of their session? To help attendees understand the importance of accessibility in widening their diverse talent pool.

website accessibility leading practicesPEAT is an initiative funded by the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) that strives to advance the employment and retention of people with disabilities through the development, adoption and promotion of accessible technology. According to Ronen and Christianson, one common problem in the industry is the confusion surrounding the difference between an accessible and assisted website.

An accessible website is initially built with people with disabilities in mind, therefore taking into consideration audio/visual issues job seekers may experience and developing the website to overcome them. On the other hand, an assisted website is not accessible to people with disabilities on it’s own but has additional features layered on later (i.e. third party screen reader technologies, screen magnifiers, etc.) to make it work. Employers should strive to have an accessible site. After all – why not have it right from the beginning?

In an effort to get at the problem areas for people with disabilities, PEAT conducted a survey of 350+ users with disabilities and found that:

  • 50% of respondents used social media during job search
  • 55% of respondents searched for jobs via mobile devices and tablets
  • Over 40% of respondents experienced difficulties or were unable to complete the apply process
  • 40% of those asked to complete pre-employment testing were unable to complete it or experienced difficulties

So what should be the main areas of focus when building an accessible site? Search, application and pre-employment testing. In fact, respondents reported the following issues with job portals:

  • navigation is complicated
  • application times out before completion
  • resume uploading is inconsistent
  • features and formatting presents accessibility challenges; or features were not compatible with assistive technology

By visiting, employers can use the TechCheck resource to evaluate their current state of accessibility and discover resources to help make improvements. Want to know more about this session? Watch the video below for a quick recap!

Kacie Koons
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