Is it okay to speak louder when talking to your new hire who wears a hearing aid or to say “see you later” to visually-impaired talents on an onboarding? David Tan, who is experienced in helping and onboarding person with disabilities (PDWs), suggested that words like “see you later” is socially acceptable to say even for PWDs. Nevertheless, it can be considered rude to talk in a high tone to someone who wears a hearing aid because they might have adjusted his hearing to the right volume.
Onboarding individual with disabilities can be a challenge for HR leaders because they need to adjust to the needs of disabled talents. International Labour Organisation on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities notified that disability inclusion might be wary as it needs different setting than when onboarding able-bodied talents. Yet, managers should not be picky and start providing the necessary supports and accommodations so PWDs can be fully productive starting from their first day at work.
See also: Turning Scars into Stars: Why Should You Hire People with Disabilities?
Here is how HR can help new hires with disabilities starting a new life and be productive in their new working environment.
Disabilities can be broken down into a number of broad sub-categories such as mobility and physical impairments, spinal cord disability, head injuries or brain disability, vision disability, hearing disability, cognitive or learning disabilities, and psychological disorder. In the interview session, make sure you know what kind of disability your new hires are having. When you know their needs, you can adjust to their level of ability.
For instance, if you hire a physically impaired individual, are they able to work on a higher floor or will they be comfortable to work on the first floor? If you hire an individual with a cognitive or learning disability, you can adjust your onboarding level to their cognitive level so the new hire can understand the knowledge you are explaining.
Next step is to create awareness. You can do this by displaying posters in your company wall and announce to employees that there will be a new team member who has special needs. It is also crucial to let your current employees know about workplace equality to prevent any form of discrimination.
Wheelchair users might need to know the location or parking lot which is specially designed for them. You also need to introduce work tools for use on a daily basis within the premise, location of accessible restrooms, pantry, stainless to use, work desk, and so on.
It is recommended for your company to become accessible and compliant as per global standards when employing candidates with disabilities. Ensure there is a ramp at the entrance and exit for employees with a wheelchair. Ensure eating can be done in the pantry in case cafeteria is inaccessible. Assign a buddy to assist in providing overall support and for inaccessible areas until the problem is resolved.
Then, you can introduce the necessary work equipment for the new hires. If your new hires have a visual impairment, make sure to provide what is needed such as light or braille books and readings. Don’t forget to give them what you usually give during onboarding programs such as a mug or a t-shirt.
Any organisation who employs PWDs should already have a statement or clause regarding protection and/or rules that need to be followed by all parties. You need to introduce and let your disabled hires know their rights and responsibilities in the workplace. This kind of policy will make them feel belonged and valued.
Likewise, if the work involves travel to a client’s place or for meetings in different locations, do not hesitate to let your employee with a disability know. But make sure the locations are accessible for them. PWDs might encounter access issues on a daily basis and they have found means of resolving it so they can do their responsibility well. You only need to ensure that you provide the needs for your employees whenever needed.
All the above situations should be accompanied by open communication. Tell your new hires to whom they can reach when they need help about company access or when they can reach the person. You might also want to encourage day-to-day meeting with them to ensure that they meet everything they need, especially during the first month of working.
When the onboarding program is completed, HR needs to maintain workflow so employees with disabilities can feel comfortable working and collaborating with you. Keep doing the one-on-one discussion and supporting them with their needs. Involve them in every company’s discussion or meeting whenever possible to help them develop just like other employees.
Read also: How to Support Employees with Disabilities in Your Company