Compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is essential for all employers with 15 of more employees. If this describes your company, you will want to make sure that your human resource professionals understand and implement all the requirements to identify and accommodate disabled employees under Title I. This means they need at least basic ADA training and regular updates.
Training packages begin with an overview of the meaning of disabilities to help the HR staff understand both the obvious and the hidden disabilities. Then, there is a discussion of the five Titles of the ADA and how Title I private employers fit into the larger picture of regulations concerning persons with disabilities. These Titles cover the areas of Employment (Title I), Public Services (Title II), Public Accommodations and Services (Title III), Telecommunications (Title IV), and Miscellaneous Provisions (Title V). HR personnel are expected to keep informed of updates in their area of responsibility.
No matter what the size of your organization, it is important that the recruitment process accommodates persons with disabilities. This means making sure that there is physical access to an interview for someone in a wheelchair or who has some other mobility impairment. Just as importantly, your HR person must be aware of what constitutes discriminatory application forms, interview questions and any testing that is done. For example, there are restrictions on questions they can ask about the disability.
A significant part of the ADA training focuses on the concept of reasonable accommodation and exactly what modifications or special equipment the employer is expected to provide. This varies greatly from job to job, depending on the kind of work done by your company, the limitations of your facility or equipment. However, there are non-negotiables that you must make sure both HR and management understand and implement.
It is possible that a disabled person might be hired and on the job before the disability becomes obvious. Your HR staff can be trained and they can coach managers on indicators of a hidden disability for which they can provide accommodation. For example, you might discover hearing problems that can be resolved with phone equipment or dyslexia that can be helped with a computer program that accepts a person’s voice instead of keyboarding.
Your HR staff should also be able to spot developing disabilities and figure out ways to keep someone employed. There are age-related conditions that might affect their work or perhaps an injury that has resulted in an ongoing impairment. The sooner these situations can be addressed, the better for everyone.
Another training session provides information in workplace etiquette around disabilities. This is training that an HR professional can learn and pass along to your management and staff. Such a session usually includes appropriate communication and interaction.
Responsible companies have strategies and policies in place to ensure the successful employment of persons with disabilities. This begins with a positive attitude, excellent training, and ongoing monitoring to prevent problems. It really does begin with each of you providing ADA training for HR professionals in your place of business.
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