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Staffing agencies encounter a wide variety of diverse candidates during the hiring process. This diversity of the talent pool is critical to a staffing agency’s ability to provide clients with ideal job candidates. It’s highly likely that your staffing firm has worked with candidates with disabilities. In fact, your agency may play a vital role in facilitating placements for persons with disabilities and ensuring their employers adhere to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines. You may work with them to provide reasonable accommodations for qualified workers, including modified structures and equipment, restructured job functions, or modified work schedules as required.
While you may strictly adhere to ADA guidelines in your hiring process and in the employment of people with disabilities, have you ever thought to consider whether your website was ADA compliant? You could be unintentionally discriminating against job seekers with disabilities if it isn’t.
The American with Disabilities Act is a civil rights law that protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in all areas of public life, including jobs. Under this law, job seekers with disabilities are guaranteed equal opportunities for employment.
ADA compliance also means your website should be accessible for people with disabilities, including those with color blindness, hearing disabilities, mobility impairments, and vision disabilities. There are generally three types of requirements for ADA-compliant websites:
1. Technical requirements: The coding, software, and operating system must be compatible with assistive technologies.
2. Function requirements: The entire website should be usable by a person with a disability.
3. Support requirements: Support documents should also be accessible by people with disabilities.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is the global ADA standard set of guidelines for making websites and digital content accessible to users with disabilities. Following these guidelines will help you maintain ADA compliance.
Websites can be built as Level A, Level AA, and Level AAA.
Levels of conformance:
1. Level A – minimal compliance
2. Level AA – added support for accessible users
3. Level AAA – the highest level of conformance, supports a wide variety of accessible technologies
While Level A might give you a passing grade, Level AA is the ideal standard for staffing agency websites. Level AAA is much more rigorous and typically only applies to schools, government agencies, and similar public organizations.
W3C conformance may require small changes or a significant overhaul of many aspects of your website, including coding, design, content, and technology.
W3C conformance looks at four key areas:
1. Perceivable – Addresses the site structure and media
This means the information presented on your site must be perceived by all users (this means content must be available to view in multiple forms, and it must be easy to see or hear, regardless of disability type)
2. Operable – Users must be able to fully operate and navigate the interface.
Accessibility features of operation include keyboard accessible and input modalities (such as point to click)
3. Understandable – Your website should be readable and predictable, and offer input assistance for persons with disabilities.
The content or operation should be clear, simple, and written at the lower secondary education level (7-9 years of school) to help people with reading disabilities understand it.
4. Robust – Content must be robust enough to be accessible by a wide variety of user agents, including assistive technology
The content should also remain accessible as technologies advance
If you’re not familiar with W3C conformance, it’s easy to make simple non-compliance mistakes on your staffing agency website. Some common issues include:
Alt tags for images and other non-text content is necessary for persons with visual impairments. The alt tags essentially describe the non-text content on the website.
Video is a powerful way to communicate information with job seekers, but it can be difficult for users with hearing impairments to hear what’s going on in the video. That’s why transcripts should be provided to make the content accessible to all.
Did you know the colors on your website could be making it more difficult for some job seekers to navigate your content and apply for jobs? Certain color combinations can make it difficult for people with color blindness or visual impairments to see the words on the screen.
A font that’s too small can also make it more difficult for persons with visual impairments to read your website content.
You might not have given that blinking image a second thought, but it could potentially trigger a seizure in someone with epilepsy.
A clear heading hierarchy complete with clearly identified headings (H1s, H2s, H3s, etc.) makes your website easier to navigate. Visually, headers should be larger and more distinct than surrounding text. This makes it easier for users with cognitive disabilities to understand the structure of the web page.
When the underlying code for the page headers is correct, it also enables screen readers to more easily navigate and read your web page in a clear manner that benefits those with visual impairments.
Your job board should be inviting to people of all abilities. However, the web design of your job board could be closing off your access to job seekers with disabilities. It may not be accessible to those who use a screen reader or for people who have difficulty using a keyboard or mouse. Complex navigation paths, fast timeouts, and captcha tests could also be putting up barriers for people with cognitive disabilities.
You’ve already taken steps to remove bias from the hiring process and to ensure you’re not discriminating against anyone, including people with disabilities. However, your website might be unwittingly impacting your brand image. Make sure your agency is seen as inclusive and supportive of people with disabilities by taking the steps required to make your website ADA compliant. This will not only enhance your candidate pool but also help you outperform your competitors.
Head over to People 2.0’s Resources section for more tips and best practices for staffing agencies.
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