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Making the Online Application Process Accessible Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Consultants' Corner: Volume 02, Issue 05

From the desk of Beth Loy, Ph.D., Principal Consultant

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against people with disabilities in regard to any employment practices or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment, including recruitment and application for employment. Many employers are starting to use the Internet to recruit new employees, to post jobs, and even for job applications. The majority of these recruiting processes are inaccessible. Under the ADA, employers who use online application processes may need to modify their procedures to ensure equal access for applicants with disabilities.

One way employers can ensure equal access is to provide recruitment and application information through means other than the Internet when an applicant with a disability cannot access information on the computer. Another, perhaps more practical, alternative is to make online information accessible to people with disabilities by designing webpages that meet the needs of individuals with motor, sensory, and neurological impairments. Four simple examples are:

1) Designing large graphics that mark hyperlinks so that people with tremors have more room to activate the links,

2) Keeping screens organized and uncluttered for individuals who are easily distracted,

3) Providing brief descriptions of short sounds for individuals with hearing impairments, and

4) Removing refresh options so that screen readers do not repeatedly restart while scrolling through a webpage.

The key to making online information accessible to people with disabilities is webpage design. In order to consider the accessibility needs of the end user, there are several design tips and validation services available to webmasters. 

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