• Best Practices: Individuals With Disabilities

    Developed by the 2014 Diversity Research Committee


    General Best Practices

    2011 Best Practices for Including Persons With Disabilities in all Aspects of Development Efforts (United Nations)

    2011 Practical Guide to Good Practice in the Recruitment of People With a Disability to the Civil Service (Civil Service Disability Network and Disability Service Team DWP, United Kingdom)

    Best Practices in Support of Individuals With a Hidden Disability

    Hidden Disabilities in the Workplace (EvoLibri Consulting)

    Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), disabilities are impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities include learning, thinking, speaking, concentrating, performing manual tasks, interacting with others, and/or working. Some disabilities may not be apparent—those are hidden disabilities.

    Under the ADA, reasonable accommodations must be made to all employees who present a documented and eligible disorder to their employer that in one or more ways affects their abilities to perform their job. “Reasonable” is defined as not unduly costly or disruptive to the employer.

    Reasonable accommodations do not require any changes to the essential functions of the job, nor do they require acceptance of less-than-satisfactory performance on the job. What is required under ADA is that the employer makes a reasonable effort to accommodate the employee’s individual needs given his/her disability.

    An organization should:

    • Strategize and develop a plan (see reasonable accommodation examples and training suggestions below).
    • Assess success and shortfalls as needed.

    Possible accommodations include:

    • Facilities modifications such as changes in the workspace (different lighting, different desk, sitting away from distractions, etc.)
    • Equipment modifications: purchase and/or installation of accommodating equipment (different keyboard, different telephone, different monitor)
    • Schedule modifications: part-time work schedule, flex-time schedule, or telecommuting arrangements
    • Unpaid leave of absence: to accommodate surgery and hospitalization for treatment
    • Job restructuring or job sharing: delegation of non-essential work functions and/or sharing a full-time position with another part-time worker
    • Increased/modified supervision: increase the frequency of or the type of performance feedback and task assignments, such as written rather than verbal instructions, and monthly performance
    • Job coaching/mentoring: pair a sensitive, successful co-worker with the employee to help the employee master the job and/or to provide casual performance feedback and encouragement.
    • Work to de-stigmatize hidden disabilities so that individuals access the services/support available to them.

    Train human resource specialists and hiring managers on how to identify and effectively manage individuals with disabilities, including the following learning objectives:
    • Understand what hidden disabilities are.
    • Understand why developing these individuals is important to the company.
    • Learn how to respond to an employee who discloses a disability.
    • Identify—not diagnose—common hidden disability characteristics.
    • Learn what are reasonable accommodations for different types of disabilities.
    • Revisit available services such as employee assistance programs (EAP), medical leave, and mental health benefits through medical insurance.
    • Explore ways to manage and develop performance in employees with hidden disabilities.
    • Review case studies to gain insight into how working with an employee with hidden disabilities might look.
    • Practice employee interventions through active listening, open questions, what-if scenarios.
    • Learn how HR can assist managers and employees in developing mutual trust.

    All materials provided here are used with the permission of their publishers.


Diversity Best Practices: Individuals With Disabilities