Skip to main content

Hiring Employees with Developmental Disabilities

By April 9, 2024April 15th, 2024HR

Is hiring employees with disabilities a smart move for your business? The U.S. Small Business Administration says that hiring disabled individuals can help businesses meet their talent needs and strengthen their competitive edge during times when it’s challenging to find talented workers. In addition, hiring disabled workers can create a culture of diversity and inclusivity that generates goodwill among a business’s customers. There can also be economic benefits in the form of tax credits and deductions.

What Qualifies as Disability?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits at least one major life activity. Developmental disabilities are marked by impairment in intellectual, physical, learning, language or behavior capabilities in a way that affects day-to-day functioning. Examples of developmental disabilities include attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorders, vision or hearing impairment and cerebral palsy.

How to Interview Candidates with Developmental Disabilities

If you are approached by a promising candidate who appears to have some form of developmental disability, you will want to take a measured approach to interviewing. First, be aware that the ADA prohibits all disability-related questions, inquiries and medical examinations prior to an offer of employment, even if they are related to the job.

In general, it’s wise to take a straightforward, practical approach to the interview. Best practices include:

  • Using plain and concrete language and allow the candidate time to process the question and formulate their response.
  • Sending interview questions and the meeting agenda in advance so that the candidate can prepare.
  • Only asking questions that are specific to the job, such as inquiries about technical and professional knowledge, skills and previous employment history.
  • Helping the applicant feel at ease by focusing on them as an individual, including their abilities, experiences and interests.

How to Accommodate Employees with Disabilities

After an applicant is hired and begins work, the ADA permits an employer to make disability-related inquiries and require medical examinations if they are related to the job and there’s a business necessity. One of the most complex issues for employers is the definition of reasonable accommodation. The ADA requires employers to engage in an interactive process to “identify the precise limitations resulting from a disability and potential reasonable accommodations that could overcome those limitations.”

In the case of developmental disabilities, employers can focus on creating a work environment that is supportive and welcoming. For example, neurodivergent employees may thrive with changes to their workspace or schedule and the ability to telework. Accommodations may be as simple as allowing the employee to work in a quiet, softly lit space that minimizes sensory issues.

When evaluating candidates with disabilities, MarathonHR can help you understand best practices and create a workplace that is inclusive of people with a wide variety of unique qualities and skills.

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.