Students with Disabilities


Tips and best practices for job seekers, including how to turn your disability into an asset, the importance of ERGs, and how to confidently request accomodations.

Description of the video:

Tiffany Meehan 0:00
My name is Tiffany, I lead marketing at Inclusively. And thank you so much for joining us today for Beyond Higher Education: Accommodations in the Workplace. So I first wanted to start that we’re recording today’s session and making it available for everyone after, we’ll send it out an email. And also we’ve enabled live captioning if you want to turn that on as well. And we also have two ASL interpreters joining us today Isabella and Jen. And after the presentation today, we’re going to take audience questions, so please feel free to submit your questions and drop them in the q&a section on the toolbar below.

Tiffany Meehan 0:35
Let me introduce our speaker today, Ross Barchacky is the Director of Partnerships at Inclusively, the workforce inclusion platform driving inclusion and opportunities for people with disabilities in the workplace. Before starting inclusively, Ross operated as a team Sergeant for a small Special Operations team in the US Army, obtain a master’s degree in Strategic Studies and worked with the US State Department, nonprofit organizations and local governments. After suffering a traumatic brain injury while on an airborne operation Ross was medically retired from the service and struggled to find a meaningful occupation that included his needed accommodations. Ross then found Inclusively and we’re proud to say he is the first job seeker to be hired through our platform. Ross now leads partnerships and amplifies the work of nonprofits, universities, vocational rehab, and government agencies. So Ross, I’ll let you take it from here.

Ross Barchacky 1:29
Thanks so much, Tiffany. I appreciate it. Let’s go ahead and dive in. Thank you all again for coming. So the training objectives that we’re going to talk about today are pretty straightforward. First of all, we want to teach you about the accommodations process in the workplace, how it works, and how it compares to the process you might already be familiar with in higher education. To equip you with the information you need to look beyond accommodations to the actual type of culture that you want to look for in an employer. And then we’ll also be focusing on universal design, what it is and how it can help you. And finally, we want this webinar to empower you to choose opportunities where you’re going to be valued and supported. So let’s get started. So first, let’s review the accommodations in the higher education. And we’re going to start with disclosure. The first step towards obtaining reasonable accommodations and higher education is oftentimes disclosure, usually to a designated disability service office. And this can be in the form of submitting an application in which you disclose or discuss that you have a disability or in maybe an attending a meeting, it’s important to understand that the student is responsible for initiating the process and higher education. So if the student doesn’t disclose, meaning if they don’t contact the Disability Services offices and then follow through with the application process, then they’re probably not going to receive reasonable accommodations, even if they’ve received similar services and accommodations in their prior K through 12. Education. The disability service office handles the process from disclosure through approval and then on to implementation, which means that even if you have discussed issues with a professor or a TA, they’re likely not going to be able to make any modifications or accommodations unless and until you’ve gone through the application and approval process with the separate Disability Services Office. And then once approved, professors and other parties necessary to accommodate implementation are notified of the approved accommodations, but not the specific disability issue. Usually, there’s a letter that’s requested by the student and then generated by the disability service office that goes to the professors that lists out the approved accommodations. So what are typical accommodations in higher education? Well, they generally focus on access to physical and digital spaces, and modifications to testing. Examples would be time and a half a smaller, less distracting environments for exams. The use of assistive technologies accessible textbooks offer a few examples, in a key difference between higher education and K through 12 Is that in most instances, for higher education, the content of the course or program is not actually modified or adjusted. So you need to take the same courses have the same prerequisites as any other student. And there’s usually no reduction in the number of problems to be completed, for example, or the numbers of papers to be written. Instead, the focus is on providing access through accommodations. And since there’s a limited understanding by a lot of professors, and other instructors of disability issues, because remember, they’re not informed of the disability issues in the letter they received from the disability services office. There can be some misunderstandings about accommodations, and that’s often there’s often not much flexibility, your creativity and figuring out exactly what accommodations would really work for this specific student in this specific course. In Final Students may be hesitant still, even when there’s been so much progress toward progress towards understanding disability. Students may be hesitant to request accommodations because of a fear of stigma, which is still a really, really still a very, really, still a very real thing. In terms of documentation, which is usually required for accommodations in higher education, it’s important to note that evaluations can be very time consuming and costly. Some students may have had evaluations throughout their academic career, but many students may not have a history of diagnoses or a disability or have a history receiving accommodations. So documentation requirements can be burdensome. College is expensive to students and their families. And they might simply not have the resources to get newer updated documentation, in essence, preventing eligible students from accessing appropriate and reasonable accommodations. And we know that many students with chronic disabilities, which are not expected to change may not be in regular treatment. So think of someone with a learning disability. students with autism students with ADHD. Still, they can be expected to seek and pay for treatment and evaluation simply to support an ongoing accommodation. Compliance in higher education is an important issue because it’s an acknowledgement that accommodations and accessibility are not just nice things to have, but legal requirements, but colleges and universities often focus primarily on compliance on the legal requirements rather than the universal access, we think of compliance is really the ground floor the minimum requirement. So if we move beyond compliance beyond the legal minimum requirements, we focus on designing environments, programs and materials with accessibility in mind in order to be fully accessible. Think of accessibility as the blueberries and blueberry muffins. If you try to put the blueberries in the muffins after the muffins have already been baked, it’s a little hard to make it work. And it’s much easier to put the blueberries in at the beginning. And the same follows for designing programs with accessibility in mind, the easier it’s much easier to do if you plan for accessibility straight from the beginning, as opposed to trying to implement it later on when you already have all your processes in place. Compliance mandates the minimum what the institution must provide and not what they need to address to actually build the universal accessibility for all students. And we know that colleges and universities vary in their own commitments to accessible accessibility and universal design. Some are making efforts to build accessibility into their programs, their practices, sites, digital content, live events, and some aren’t. So I’d like to take everyone just take a moment and pause to consider what your own higher education experience has been like. Think of your introduction to the university, your living experiences, your first discussions with the disability services office, your first semester, the exams. If you use accommodations, Were there times when the accommodations process was smooth. Was it easy to understand from the beginning, was the process for notifying instructors clear and laid out. Now Were there times when the process was more difficult? Or were there times when you felt like you did not receive appropriate accommodations? I’d like you to keep those lived experiences in the back of your mind as we shift the conversation to the workplace and workplace accommodations. So recently, there’s been an increased interest by organizations in making accessibility a key part of the diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Much of that work goes beyond the compliance based approach to reasonable disability related accommodations that’s found in most college and university settings, and instead looks to establish an inclusive culture for colleagues and customers with disabilities. This shift in perspective is changing from a focus solely on individual accommodations for employees who disclose a disability, to creating environments and processes, which are designed from the beginning to be accessible to all. This shift can be better understood, if we look at two different models that we’re going to go over here on the next slide, the social model of disability, and the medical model. So many people think of disability primarily as a medical issue using a medical model of disability. But we’re seeing a shift a recognition that disability is a social issue, best understood by using a social model of disability. So what does all that mean? Well, in the medical model, disability is a deficiency or an abnormality. While in the social model disability is a difference. In the medical model, disability is a negative. In the social model, being disabled in and of itself is neutral, neither good nor bad, just different In the medical model, the remedy for any disability related problems is the cure or the normalization of the individual, in essence getting rid of the disability. In contrast, in the social model, the remedy for any disability related problems is a change in the interaction between the individual and society. So not a change to the individual, but a change to the interaction between the individual in the environment in between the individual and other people. Is the agent of remedy in the medical model is a professional, or an expert who affects the arrangements between the individual and society. You can think of a doctor or therapist or an evaluator who makes professional recommendations where the accommodations administrator and the university disability services offices who provides an approved accommodations but in the social model, the agent of remedy can be the individual themselves. The person with a disability can be an advocate, or it can be anyone who affects the arrangement between the individual and society, anyone. And finally, in the medical model, the goal is remedy or remediation. The goal is fixing the person, the individual with a disability. Whereas in the social model, the goal is access access to services work experiences. So in the social model, we are primarily focusing on accessibility.

Ross Barchacky 11:30
So let’s take a look at disability as an asset. First things first, remember that you’re not alone, there has been an increased access to students with disabilities and higher education across the board, including graduate and professional schools, resulting in more and more students with disabilities with all types of disabilities now prepared to enter the workforce. And many of these students have had a history of accommodations and know what they need to be successful. And while there’s much work to be done, we can definitely take a moment to acknowledge that the disability rights movement has resulted in greater representation for people with disabilities and media, in the workplace, and in almost all aspects of society. And dei initiatives have started to include accessibility, resulting in hiring initiatives focusing on disability inclusion, along with other dei issues. We can also acknowledge that the progress that has been made in education and employment for people with disabilities at the same time that we acknowledged that disability is one of the most underserved markets despite being the largest minority population in the world. When we’re thinking of markets, we’re thinking of the labor market is in the number of qualified people with disabilities who are employed or seeking employment. But we’re also thinking of the customer base the purchasing power of people with disabilities. Companies don’t want to lose out on the business opportunities created when they build inclusive cultures and products. Remember that one in four people have or will experience disability during their working years. And 62% of employees with disabilities have non apparent disabilities, it’s very likely you’re working alongside many people right now that have disabilities that may or may not be be accommodated for them. So you need to remember that you’re an asset right now as you prepare to enter the job market. It’s essential that you remember and fully understand that your perspective and talents and experiences as a person with a disability are part of what makes you an asset to your future employer, not in spite of your disability, but because of your disability. So ask yourself, how does your experience and your perspective as a person with a disability add value to you as a prospective employee? Do you know what you need to be successful? What are your strengths? Think of problem solving abilities, focus, determination, grit? You want to reframe your disability as an asset rather than a problem? What do you bring to the table? What does your experience and perspective as a person with a disability allow you to do that other people might not be able to do or may not be able to do as well? So let’s look at a few examples and begin to frame disability as an asset for you and for your future employers. Let’s take a look at autism. How is autism an asset? Autistic people are often able to learn a great deal about subjects or areas of intense interest to them. They can become subject matter experts in these areas often at early ages. And people with autism are frequently known for their straightforward language, in honest direct interactions with other people. If you have autism, you can describe how you give direct clear feedback and you don’t generally engage in underhanded or insincere office politics. That’s an asset to employers. Similarily individuals with autism often have a strong added ability rather to identify patterns and complex data. Along with being able to process and understand details. These are key assets to a future employer, so make sure that you understand them and highlight them in your interviews. Similarily a hallmark of ADHD is creative outside the box problem solving. You want to have creative problem solvers at the table to minimize groupthink and to come up with new solutions. And people with ADHD can show great focus on areas of interest or on interactive tasks. Often students with ADHD have difficulty maintaining focus in a classroom, but are able to maintain focus at a high level once they move into an internship or a clinical setting where they’re more actively involved rather than sitting and listening. And there’s a clear connection between people with ADHD and entrepreneurship, again, showing this connection between ADHD and creativity and problem solving. We see a consistent connection between dyslexia in this whole list of positive attributes including creative problem solving, the ability to see the big picture and making connections with others. And yet many people still focus primarily on the challenges of dyslexia. Think back on the medical model versus the social model. They see these Dyslexia as a disability related to learning to read, but don’t at the same time recognize that there’s a whole list of positive attributes connected to dyslexia. And research continues to confirm that dyslexia itself can foster creativity, invention, and discovery. So Ross, how do you do all of that? How do you tell your own story and make sure that your framing disability is an asset and that story? So I’d say you remember to highlight how your own experience gives you a unique perspective on how to connect with what we know is a diverse workforce and a diverse customer base. Think about empathy and your connections with others? Do you feel that you have greater empathy for others and understanding of diverse perspectives? Are you an out of the box thinker? Think of how you problem solve? Have you had to be creative to learn how to navigate inaccessible environments or inaccessible processes? And how has your experience as a person with a disability, that you have the perseverance and grit to succeed in the workplace? Employers are starting to learn that there’s a return on investment for companies with Inclusive workforces in terms of increased productivity, loyalty of employees, creativity and empathy. It’s also very important to go and do your own research to find out about the values and culture of potential employers. Is the company committed to diversity inclusion? Does the company’s mission statement reflect a commitment to inclusion? does it mention disability inclusion? Specifically? Do they have an employee resource group or a business resource group dedicated to employees with disabilities? Is there a mentorship program or mentoring opportunities, and look through the company literature website to see indicators that the company openly highlights and supports employees with disabilities are people with disabilities represented in management? Because that representation can make a huge impact on overall culture. You want to look and see if information about the process of requesting accommodations is included right on their job posting or any other company communications, you really want to have an idea of the company’s commitment to inclusion before you accept the job offer. So the process for requesting accommodations in the workplace is often very similar to the process in higher education. It usually starts with a disclosure to either human resources or to a supervisor that you identify is a person with a disability. And it usually requires some type of documentation, identifying the diagnoses, or providing information related to the function or issues in the workplace. And similar to higher ed, the process for obtaining accommodations in the workplace is interactive and should be included, or it should include a clear appeal process along with periodic reviews to ensure that the accommodations are appropriately implemented, and that they’re effective once implemented.

Ross Barchacky 19:15
It’s also important to remember that you can request accommodations in the hiring process and interview process. You want to be able to present yourself in the best possible manner and it’s important that your possible employer has the opportunity to accurately assess your qualifications, which may mean that you have accommodations in place for the entire process. should focus on the position in what do you need to be successful. It might be as simple and straightforward as periodic breaks. Or maybe you have a service animal or changes to the interview schedule. You may require ASL translating services or accessible furniture or digital platform. Remember that you’re entitled to reasonable accommodations under the ADEA if you need the accommodations, but don’t ask for them. You really not providing the employer with an accurate under Standing of your potential.

Ross Barchacky 20:06
So let’s take a moment to talk about universal design we talked about a little bit at the beginning. So we’ve talked about how organizations are starting to look beyond individual accommodations. Think of the medical model two, a way of creating a more accessible environment. From the start, let’s look at Universal Design and how it’s helping to build environments that are inclusive for all. So first of all, what is it? Well, at its heart Universal Design is simply the process of creating products, services, and presentations that are accessible to people with a wide range of abilities, disabilities and other characteristics. Think back to the example of making blueberry muffins is similar to making accessible environments, very difficult to add the accessibility or the blueberries. At the end of the process, it’s best to plan for accessibility from the start, it’s a lot easier. We come across a lot of examples, a lot of examples of Universal Design in our day to day life right now. Think about curb cuts, which are designed to provide access for wheelchair users, but which are used by people every day for pushing strollers or grocery carts or people you know, going for a run. Siri on your phone was also initially developed for use for people with disabilities. But it’s now commonly used by lots of people without disabilities. Speech to text software was used by people with disabilities who are unable to manually input data. And now they’re commonly used by doctors to quickly add progress notes, or by students drafting a paper, there’s millions of uses that are not directly related to a disability. In the workplace, we see similar evidence of universal design, including accessibility options for digital platforms, physical and environmental changes, such as ramps and accessible workplaces and options for workplaces to provide for reduced distractions. And universal design doesn’t just focus on accessibility, but also on usability and dignity, which are very important is an example imagine a workplace where there’s an accessible entrance, but the entrances around the back of the building, maybe near the garbage or the trash. So most employees enter the place of work by walking through a Grand Lobby, but somebody who uses a wheelchair might have a very different experience. So we’re looking to provide not just accessible options, but also usable in dignified options. A couple other questions to ask about would be whether or not the environment is supportive of growth and success. What do they do prefer professional development? And is the culture in the organization welcoming for people with disabilities, and by this we mean more than an accessible front door. So let’s shift gears a bit to talk a little bit about specifically how we heard Inclusively are working to change the way that disability hiring and workplace accommodations are conducted. So here, Inclusively, candidates have access to job postings with companies that are already truly committed to disability inclusion and providing accommodations throughout the hiring process. We call accommodations and Inclusively success enablers. Candidates can identify the success enablers they need right from the beginning, the focus is on transparency, access and dignity. The companies that list their jobs on inclusive list platform have made a commitment to disability inclusion and accessibility, and are already engaged in training on inclusion and universal design. Our approach is based on a social model of disability where everyone has responsibility for building an inclusive work culture with a focus on accessibility, usability and universal design. In the inclusive platform creates community and candidate networking opportunities along with ongoing opportunities for learning. Because candidates from inclusively will already have been identified as a person with a disability, we are making sure that the process of putting reasonable accommodations or success enablers in place happens at the beginning of the hiring process. We also have a success enablement team available to help companies with questions about accommodations in the workplace. Additionally, companies are trained on creating inclusive and accessible interview and hiring processes to ensure that candidates with disabilities have an opportunity to compete and level the playing field for all candidates. So inclusively is really working towards solving underemployment and unemployment of people with disabilities with a focus on access to success enablers, ongoing company training, and a commitment to meaningful disability inclusion throughout the entire process, from job postings through production. companies receiving training on the use of universal design to build inclusive workplace environments and cultures, and focusing on the importance of planning for access from the beginning and not as an afterthought. We match care Let’s with companies who can offer what they need in terms of success enablers, and workplace accommodations. So in essence, we’re working towards the creation of one front door open to all. All right, I would definitely like to open it up to any questions that anyone might have on any of the content that we went over today. So I will hand it back over to Tiffany.

Tiffany Meehan 25:27
Great, great, we have quite a few questions coming in, which is amazing. So we’ll start with the first one here. Someone asked about finding work from home options while adjusting to a newly acquired disability, how can they get started?

Ross Barchacky 25:43
Sure, I think that question or the answer, rather, is definitely going to depend on where you are in your career journey. You know, if you’re a student, or you’ve taken a break from a workplace, or maybe you’re trying to enter into a new field, if the maybe the career field you had prior to did not offer remote work, like maybe I want to say like nursing, but even I think there’s opportunities for nurses as well nowadays, but it would really depend. So we have really the full scale. So if you want internship opportunities, we offer internships that are nationwide, they don’t have state restrictions on them. For you know, a multitude of different areas that you might want to get involved in. We also have training and upskilling opportunities, if you’re just getting into a new career. So say you’re getting into tech, and you want to learn to code or something like that you could, you know, work with one of inclusive lease partners to help get certified in what you need. We offer full time positions and part time positions from work. So depending on whether or not you’re collecting disability, and maybe you can only accommodate part time work, we have those offers as well. So it really depends on you know, what it is that you’re looking for career wise, but we have plenty of opportunities. remote work is the number one requested accommodation on exclusively, I think, to the surprise of no one. Great question.

Tiffany Meehan 27:08
So the next question, and we had two questions from people here without autism. So our so this person asked, I’m autistic and you clear on instructions and job duties. I asked for written instructions and also an org chart but haven’t received it? How do I didn’t get adequate onboarding. So despite, despite starting in August, I’m still finding out things they should have told me before. So I guess this is more of a two part, how would you go about asking for accommodations as someone with autism? And then also, what accommodations would you request?

Ross Barchacky 27:45
Sure, that’s a great question. And one that I get asked a lot, because a lot of the times when you are going to the workplace, there’s there’s still people having that that fear that that bias from people with disabilities, and so they might not feel comfortable disclosing their disability until later on, until they know they have the job, until they know that, you know, it’s a place where they can trust their direct leadership. And so it really differs for everyone. Other disabilities also might be late onset, you know, you might be 20 years into a career and get into a car accident or, you know, gain any other type of disability and have to request accommodation. So my my first recommendation would be ask for help. Today, you know, go go down to you know, your HR and say, I would like to disclose my disability. And you’ll be able to point you in the correct direction as far as who you need to go and what forms you need to go. requesting an accommodation in the workplace isn’t something that has to happen during the hiring process. It’s something that we promote to happen here inclusively during the hiring process, because we enable our employer partners to understand the benefits of doing that. But not all employers do. So I would definitely say HR is your first best step towards getting that. And then I would also bring it up if you feel comfortable to your direct supervisor as well, just so that they can better understand.

Tiffany Meehan 29:11
Hey, awesome, and I know that our team was talking a little bit about this before having some accommodations, like noise cancelling headphones and things like that. So if you maybe could share some things, some examples for everyone.

Ross Barchacky 29:27
So some success enablers for individuals that might have autism. Yes, that Yeah. So, you know, another I hate to be dodging all these questions. But you know, autism is one of those things where it is a spectrum and you know, it can be different for everyone, but some of the more common ones like you said, noise cancelling headphones, reminders for the interview process that might be getting the interview questions ahead of time so that you have time to prepare, it might be not doing a panel interview and instead doing one on one Um, it might be having a quiet place within the office to where you can conduct work if necessary. You know, being able to bring sensory friendly items to work, there’s a whole list and it would depend on really the the industry that you’re in, right, your accommodations, if you work construction will be a lot different than if you, you know, work from home. But we definitely have a really good listing on our website of all the different success enablers on there, so that you can get some ideas. And then we also have a community page, to where you can talk to other individuals who utilize similar success enablers and get ideas from them of hey, what worked? What didn’t work? What would you recommend? Things like that?

Tiffany Meehan 30:43
Great, thank you. Let’s see another one. So this one is many companies, including the one I work for are tiny with less than 20 employees, they do not have an HR department, let alone a disability office. So how would you go about getting accommodations?

Ross Barchacky 31:00
Sure, yeah. Well, I guess that would depend on the organization, but whoever it is, that would represent, you know, within your organization, legal payroll, or anything like that. So if it’s a close knit organization, it would probably be the CEO, if they don’t have anybody directly under him, that would be the next place to go. You know, regardless of the size of the organization, if it’s 50,000 people across the globe, where you and one other person, that other person is still required to give you reasonable workplace accommodations. So you know, definitely, without knowing the specifics, I would definitely say, you know, whoever it is that that holds the decision making ability within your organization that it wouldn’t be unreasonable for you to go up and interact with and, you know, if, if this didn’t answer your question, by all means, Tiffany is gonna put my contact information in the end. So I’d be happy to talk more specifics with you to help you out as well.

Tiffany Meehan 31:57
Awesome. Um, let’s see another one. What is the best? What is the best time to disclose a disability? And what are some pros and cons of disclosing during an interview? Yeah.

Ross Barchacky 32:13
I guess it would depend on the employer, right, and the culture. So as I mentioned before, you know, the employers that we work with here at inclusively we specifically work with to help them understand the importance of having that transparent conversation upfront, so that everyone can be set up for success, right from the beginning, accommodation we brought on board, there’s no, there’s no delay of oh, you’ve been there three weeks, and now you’re requesting an accommodation, it’s going to take two months to get. So we definitely recommend doing it right away. That being said, every employer is different. And so if you have an employer where you’ve gone, you’ve researched them and you feel sort of on the fence about whether or not this is a safe place to disclose, well, then that’s going to be a personal call a personal column, whether or not that’s the type of excuse me organization that you want to work for, or to if you know, maybe that’s one of your only options, and you need to work for that organization. I guess that that would probably be a judgment call. But, you know, I definitely understand the desire for wanting to wait till later in the process to address you know, what accommodations you need in the workplace, you don’t want to be weeded out. And so I would say still, the latest that you can do it without implementing or without interfering with its implementation, right? If you need a screen reader, the day to tell them that you need screen reading software, the day that you’re telling me to ergonomical desk or a handicap parking space isn’t day one when you show up to work. So as soon as you feel comfortable to where disclosing isn’t going to negatively impact you in any way with an employer, I would say would be the best recommendation.

Tiffany Meehan 33:59
Okay, great. Let’s see. There’s a bunch of questions coming in. So let me see really quick for partners. Let’s ask What does inclusively look like for partners?

Ross Barchacky 34:13
Sure. So great question. So inclusively. We partner with all different types of organizations, universities, nonprofits, governmental organizations, vocational rehabilitation, veteran service organizations. Essentially, if there’s someone out there providing career services or resources to individuals from this community, inclusively offers them the opportunity to post any of their available opportunities within our site. We help with marketing we also help with individuals that their job seekers to be able to come on create a free platform or a free account rather with inclusively to where they can be connected with these employers where they don’t have to worry about situations like that the when should I disclose and whatnot. There’s also a place where they can come on and share things in our community portal. So we really look at ourselves as a connective hub are the connective tissue between all these organizations across the country that are doing this great work. And we can be sort of the Nexus where they interact with employers.

Ross Barchacky 35:21
If there are, if there’s anyone out there representing an organization that we don’t already partner with, I’d be happy to, you know, you can send me an email when Tiffany puts my contact information in the chat. And I’d be more than happy to sit down and talk specifics, depending on what type of organization it is that you’re representing.

Tiffany Meehan 35:39
So there’s a question in here, I work best with natural light, but I haven’t worked where there are any Windows is natural light, something you can ask for as an accommodation?

Ross Barchacky 35:47
Sure. Yeah, definitely. I mean, if it’s if it’s directly related to, you know, your your disability, so for instance, maybe a mood disorder or some other, you know, mental health concern, or vitamin D deficiency, I’m not really sure. You know, what it is that you would be referring to, but if it’s something that can directly alleviate sort of your disability, or help to accommodate it, by all means, ask for it. And, you know, I don’t think depending on the industry, I don’t think that’d be something that would be unreasonable. For sure, I would say, and I didn’t mention this in the talk, but sometimes it’s a give and take when requesting accommodations. So they might say, we don’t have a place where you know, there’s no offices with windows in this organization. You might be able to come back and say, Okay, well then what about like a modified schedule? You know, what if for one hour a day I go work out, if I go to the park with my laptop, you know, are getting a break every hour to go and take a 10 minute walk outside, stretch your legs, get some sunlight, right? So when you’re advocating for yourself in the workplace, it might be necessary to not look at it in terms of black and white of either you accommodate me with this or you don’t it might be a matter of how can we work together to make this amicable for both of us to work out for both sides?

Tiffany Meehan 37:15
So the next question is, are there opportunities for non tech jobs? I’m autistic, but not a techie, I would like remote work, but not. But for not remote work. I would like to be a public speaker and bnmc.

Ross Barchacky 37:28
Sure, definitely. I mean, you know, remote work in the tech industry, I think goes hand in hand, because there’s some of the original remote roles. And I think for individuals from that part of the community, generally, there’s a lot of recruitment that happens in those larger tech agencies, for sure. But there are so many jobs that can be remote on our on our platform, you know, whether you wanted to get into finance, or marketing or talent, or you know, anything, as far as public speaking opportunities, while we, we don’t advertise things like that as full time jobs on our platform, I don’t think we currently have anything. One good place for that, if you’re looking for like paid speaking opportunities would probably be within the community. It’s free to people who set up an account here on exclusively, and you can go on there and you know, you can network with individuals and you know, say this is my area of expertise. This is the area that I you know, look for public speaking opportunities and, and make yourself available. But for sure, if that’s the sort of industry they’re interested in, we do have ones that are related to it, you know, maybe things in communication, or public relations or partnerships, you know, where you’d be able to utilize your community, your communication skills, in a more full term capacity.

Tiffany Meehan 39:00
Thank you, and I’m gonna drop right now some links in the chat for everyone to check out. And so there was another one on here one second. There’s so many questions, which is great. Thank you, everyone, for dropping your questions. I’m going to save these so we can probably get we can reach out to you directly after two minutes. So there’s a question about how are we kind of working with the companies to ensure that they don’t discriminate, and how do we pick the jobs? Or how do they pick the jobs that they have on inclusively? So kind of more of that process?

Ross Barchacky 39:46
Sure. Great questions. So when we start working with an employer, we have different phases that we bring them through and the initial phase is really laying the groundwork for becoming an inclusive organization specifically around discipline. So we offer them training, we do coaching and consultation, we look at their accommodations process, we look at what applicant tracking system that they use, you know, how do people request accommodations right now, when they’re looking for a job? How do people that work at your company already, that develop a disability or decide to disclose it get accommodations? Do you have an erg? So there’s a lot of things that we walk through with the employers pulling upon best practices from across all industries. And help them really find something that works organically with their specific organization and industry. What was the last part of that? Question, Tiffany?

Tiffany Meehan 40:41
Um, just like how, how do we make sure that we have, like, a good diverse selection of jobs?

Ross Barchacky 40:48
Oh, sure. Yeah. So it’s, it’s, it’s a process, right? Disability Inclusion is something that has been looked at from this compliancy model for a long time. And so a lot of organizations are structured like that. So a lot of the times when we bring out a new partner with inclusively, when we’re working with them, is, you know, any good organization will do, we’ll do a small pilot program, or we’ll do something we’ll work with a specific entity within the organization, to develop the processes to develop the plan for the rollout, and make sure that everything is working well, before they move it out to the larger organizations, many of the organizations we work with are fortune 1000 companies, their giant global conglomerate. So it’s, it’s it’s a slower moving machine. But we do not put limitations. It’s, in fact, it inclusively, we highly recommend that they make all of their jobs available, because that’s exactly what we don’t want is for people’s unconscious bias to come into play when they’re when you know, there are sites out there that offer, you know, post 10 jobs for three months, you know, and it’s this this amount of money. But what that does is it causes the employer to say, Well, what do my jobs are best for someone with a disability, which is a situation nobody wants anybody to be in. And so here it inclusively, when our employer partners partner with us, everything is included, everything is, you know, unlimited with users and seats and job postings, because we don’t want them to have to even think about making that decision. So to answer your questions, some of our employers when they come on, we’ll start small with a small pilot program with somewhere where we’ve historically seen success. And then we’ll go in, we’ll move out as we develop what processes work specifically for that organization.

Tiffany Meehan 42:43
Great response. Here’s one about er G’s, which I know we’ve been working on. So I co lead an erg for nurture neurodivergent folks curious about what you’ve seen ERGs do to support neurodivergent? Folks?

Ross Barchacky 42:59
Yeah, I think the most important thing that ERGs support in any context is a voice. A lot of the times within these organizations disabilities when something people didn’t feel comfortable talking about it, even if they felt like disclosing, you never know who’s gonna feel what way. So a lot of the times it’s kept up themselves, but ERGs give them a safe place to come out when they don’t just have a voice in a room, they have a voice to the ear of the leadership of the organization. And they have a really important role in helping to direct how that organization implements disability inclusion. And so to answer your question, I guess it would really be for advocating for the individuals within that organization. So for instance, if you’re working for a disability ERG, and there was something, let’s say, I think he said, individuals that were neurodivergent, you know, maybe after, you know, doing a poll, because I see a lot of ERGs do that they can they can ask for things from individuals within the organization and get better results than maybe HR can. And so maybe they’ll collect data from the employees there and the members of their group and say, I think one of the best things that would work is a quiet place for people to conduct their work or maybe a sensory room, right. It’s something that the organization doesn’t have. People have asked onesies and twosies for it. But if you come together as an erg and say, This is important to the success of the organization, here’s why. And you have the ear of the leadership, you’re probably more likely to have it happen. So I would say that ERGs are definitely instrumental and incredibly important in rolling out and changing how that organization views disabilities. I know sort of a roundabout way so happy to narrow in on that.

Tiffany Meehan 44:50
No, I think that’s good. You did mention about check this one. Yeah, you mentioned inclusively partners with companies who provide certification like coding If we’re pursuing UX or UI design, how would we gain access to these programs?

Ross Barchacky 45:07
Yeah, so we house all of those opportunities, whether they’re internships, apprenticeships, upskilling, and training. They’re all housed on our site. So you can go in there. And when you create your free, inclusively profile, when you go in, you can search for your jobs, you can search by job type, and it’ll say, enter their internships, apprenticeships, training opportunities, excuse me, and you can search directly for those. We have them both local and in person, or local in person and virtual. So depending on what works for you, and what industry and company you’re looking to work with. But we do have, you know, we have everything from people that wanted to get into graphic design from people that want to get into tech and coding from people that want to get into project management. A lot of these skills are great specifically, you know, talking through the lens of university students, internships and upskilling. Opportunities could be great. You could come on to inclusively with a degree in computer science, you know, go and get your project management certification from one of these organizations, and then also set up your internship and your full time job all through inclusively without ever leaving.

Tiffany Meehan 46:22
So another question is, I’ve not heard any mention of people who are legally blind from my experience and those other VAB. Folks, it’s, it’s hard to retain employment, how can employment gaps be addressed on resumes? And how to address the need for additional time to complete tasks?

Ross Barchacky 46:38
Yeah. Oh, that’s, that’s a great question. And I’m sorry, I didn’t get to that in, in the presentation itself, gaps in employment, frequent breaks in careers, non traditional career path late start to a career, you know, these are the hallmark signs of everyone from this community. Right, there’s been barriers to employment. And there’s a lot of hiring practices nowadays, that just feel like you get weeded out, you know, likely before you ever even got in front of anybody, because you weren’t the ideal candidate, you didn’t have the ideal attributes that they were looking for, that they had posted in that position. And so when we work with our employer partners, that is a big part of what we teach. We have training specifically for recruiters and hiring managers. And that is a big section of what we go over there is specifically how to address those those gaps, right? And how to really identify them or interpret them. And understand, you know, that, hey, this is a process, maybe someone had a loved one that they had to take care of, or maybe someone had surgery and they needed to recover. So instead of just putting everybody through, you know, sort of this square hole. You know, they take a look at everyone holistically and individually. It’s great question.

Tiffany Meehan 48:01
Okay, so another question, which is a great question here, does inclusively have advisors with different types of disabilities? And do that, I guess, do they ever visit? The companies

Ross Barchacky 48:14
does inclusively have advisors? Like for specificities for specific disabilities? Is that the question?

Tiffany Meehan 48:20
Yes. So we do work with like Christina Malin, who is at Microsoft, and she has a limb difference. So she’s advised a lot for just different companies and employers and even our job seekers.

Ross Barchacky 48:33
Yeah. And on top of that, we really lean on the partnership, I mean, represented with all throughout our organization here at inclusively with individuals with disabilities, of course. But then we also leverage the organizations that are out there and been doing this work for 50 100 years. Take AFP, for example, the American Foundation for the Blind. You know, when you’re talking specifically about individuals that are blind or have low vision, they’re leading the field. You know, they have decades of research and things like that. And so we can lean on those partners when we’re working with an employer that’s maybe making their first hire for somebody that’s blind and needs a little bit of extra help walking through the process. So if it’s something here that doesn’t get addressed directly in, you know, really the the training and the initial ongoing, the inclusively continues to offer support. So when we sign on with an organization, it’s not just prepare them, have them do the training, and then they start hiring individuals, it goes way past that. So if they have something come up months down the road, like, like I mentioned, like that individual who is maybe blind and applied for the position got hired, and now they’re realizing that there’s issues with maybe one of the tech tools that they use, we can link them in with a partner that you know, is a leader in their space, for sure. It’s that connective tissue that I was talking about before that we’re able to I’m sort of leverage the work that everyone else across the country is doing, to be able to get all these employers set up for success. Because at the end of the day, that’s the goal of all of our organizations.

Tiffany Meehan 50:11
Awesome. And then there’s a question here, I’m just going to drop a blog post that we have about SSI. And we, we worked with a disability employment attorney. And so she offered a really, really good resource for people. Someone asked if they have a diagnosis, but they’re not verified on state disability. How would they go through the accommodations process with their employer, so I will drop the link there as well. And that’s, that has a lot of great info.

Ross Barchacky 50:40
Sure. And if if you read over that, or anyone else reads over it, and you still have questions, by all means, once again, Tiffany’s will put my contact information out there, so you can always reach out, we can get you more specific help for what you’re looking for.

Tiffany Meehan 50:55
So let’s see some more. I think we’ve gone over when to disclose because we talk about, you know, working with inclusively, we’d love to have you disclose upfront, because then your interview can be, you know, just completely accessible and accommodated. And

Tiffany Meehan 51:22
so how can Autistics be advocates for remote work in IT support when some companies have been arguing for on site work?

Ross Barchacky 51:32
Well, that’s the real trick isn’t as getting them to view remote work as a reasonable accommodation. You know, people with disabilities have been arguing for remote work for I mean, since the advent of the Internet, and and probably before. And so it can be a process depending on who your employer is. It’s the reason that here at inclusively, you know, the employers that we work with specifically, we get them to understand that remote work is an accommodation. So even if the position isn’t listed as remote to everybody, it should still be taken into consideration when talking about whether or not it’s going to set you up for the most success within your job. So I would say, one, if the employer that you’re looking for is one of our partners here and inclusively, it’s really easy just listed as one of your success enablers. And if not, definitely, I would probably show up with ammunition, right? Or something that you can use to show that the greatest organizations are taking disability inclusion seriously. And using remote work as an accommodation is one of the main ways that they do that. And then, you know, just having sort of your own personal justification for why that helps you right? If it’s because you can focus more on work when you’re not having to analyze social situations, or you can focus more on work when there’s not sensory distractions, right, those are things that the employer should see as benefits. And if they don’t, then that’s something that you’re going to have to take up the chain, unfortunately, right, because they are required by law to do it. And so, you know, hopefully it doesn’t, it never comes to that, of course, that’s not the goal, the goal is to get these organizations to understand that there’s a better way. But if necessary, definitely that’s what HR legal compliance, that’s what they’re all there for, it’s their their job is to make sure that you get what you need. So that’s what I would say, Come up with your justification, come up with sort of your your ammunition, there’s a lot of information on our community about what other employers are doing and the benefit to accommodating individuals with disabilities to the organization itself. And, you know, just sort of go in there and make it you know, make it an offer they can’t refuse, right, something that they can’t say no to because you have all the information in front of you.

Tiffany Meehan 53:56
So well, two more questions. The first one, I know we’re running a little short on time. But first one here is how do I become an employer and get listed on

Ross Barchacky 54:07
Sure. So the first step would definitely be shoot us a message. So you can go either to the website, there’s a Contact Us or requesting a demo. You can also reach out directly to me, and depending on your organization, I’ll make sure that I get you to the correct individual. But generally, that’s the best way to start the process so that we can identify what your goals are as an organization. We can talk about sort of best practices, like I mentioned, that we see here and inclusively and then yeah, get you connected with the right people and get started sooner or later.

Tiffany Meehan 54:44
Awesome. And then let’s see this one. It’s a little bit longer, but this is great question.

Tiffany Meehan 55:02
One second, sorry. Okay, after waiting for years, my name finally came to the top of the list for a service dog, not an emotional support dog. But they said that I had to ask my employer if I could have a dog at work. My employer said no, because she is allergic. And I also teach elementary school kids. So let’s see. So the service dog organization would let me have a dog. But now I found out that legally, my employer has to let me have the dog at work. So please tell me how to handle this type of situation. How do I tell an employer that I’m getting a service dog? And what do I do?

Ross Barchacky 55:39
Oh, boy, this is a horrible question to end on with only three minutes because service dogs are near and dear to my heart, I have my service dog, parent, as well. And particularly, that the there’s a few things you said that make this complicated. One is the fact that the person has said that they have allergies, which is generally not an excuse, right? Someone being afraid of dogs or somebody having allergies, it says right, and Ada, it’s not an excuse to not allow someone to have a service animal. That being said, the fact that you work in an elementary school schools are a little bit different. And it’s sad, you can you can go and look up a bunch of stories about you know, kids and teachers and staff not being able to bring service dogs into schools, and it gets held up in the legal system for years, until people just move schools or give up. It can be it can be really tricky. So I’m gonna I’m going to try and sum this up and saying that having a service dog is your right. That being said, there are ways that employers and especially public entities, like schools and things like that can make it a nightmare. So definitely reach out to me. All right, let’s, let’s, let’s let’s talk about this offline your specific case, but for anyone else out there that has a service dog. Yeah, it’s not an excuse, being allergic, being afraid. You can look all this stuff up and bring it to your employer directly out of the ADA, we have some information on the community as well. So yeah, more than happy to advocate for anyone on a personal level about service dogs.

Tiffany Meehan 57:26
Okay, awesome. I’m gonna go through the questions and kind of save them here. But if anyone I know we’re out of time, so we’ll do our best to get to everyone, like via email. But like Ross said, if you want to send him an email, Ross and, we will absolutely get back to you. And we have a great team who is like super diverse and knows a lot about different types of disabilities. So that’s kind of how we’re operating. And we’ll do our very best to get you responses to all these really, really great questions. And I will be sending out the recording of the webinar with a transcript. Probably tomorrow, latest Monday. So that will go out to everyone here.

Ross Barchacky 58:09
Perfect. Well, thank you all so much for coming. We have another webinar coming up on the 30th that talks about the transition for veterans. So if you’re interested in that you can sign up on the community as well. And then more events are in the works to follow as well. So definitely sign up so that you can stay in touch with all the latest events that we’re doing here at inclusively.

Tiffany Meehan 58:34
Amazing, thank you everyone.

Whether, when, and how to disclose your disability and ask for accommodations during the recruiting process, onboarding, or throughout employment.

Description of the video:

Hi everyone welcome to the 10th annual ability summit and thank you for joining us over in the career corner today we are going to have a conversation with Renee Forsythe from Lyme connect on disclosure and accommodations my name is Lisa Mayberry I'm a program manager at Microsoft I work with inclusive hiring programs for people with disabilities and this is a topic for me that it's very close to home as well I'm working with candidates every day who need accommodations to go through interviews but then are also onboarding and navigating the benefits process at Microsoft as well Renee is going to share some tips on whether when and how to disclose and these are really great tips that will apply across your job search at any company not just Microsoft so we hope that you get a lot from this presentation it's going to be about 20 minutes and then afterwards we will have some time for question and answer as well after that I will be moderating so with that I'm going to go ahead and turn it over to Renee to kick this up thanks Lisa we are so happy to join Microsoft for the ability summit and appreciate the partnership between lime connect and Microsoft as together we work towards our mission of rebranding disability to achievement thank you all for joining us for this discussion on disclosure and accommodations and how to set yourself up for success during the recruiting process when onboarding into a new role or at any time during your employment today we will identify ways that you can best communicate your needs as a person with a disability while also highlighting the unique strengths that you bring to your team first it's important to take a look at the disability landscape and recognize that as a person with a disability in the workplace you are not alone one in four North Americans have a disability and in the workforce research shows that 30 percent of white collar workers have a disability this number may be surprising to you because many people don't talk about their disabilities in fact only 3 percent of them please actually self-identify as having a disability so why is there such a disparity between these two numbers one reason is that the majority of disabilities are non visible or not evident to others when you first meet them so if you're a person whose disability is not evident you have to make an active choice whether to disclose your disability or not even if you have a visible disability you will have to make choices about when to disclose your disability and if you choose to request an accommodation how to make that request at Lyme connect when we coach members about the decision process around disclosing your disability we encourage people to consider whether when and how to disclose to set yourself up for success just closing your disability may not be necessary or appropriate in every situation but it is important to note that your employer's want to help you to be successful and to give you what you need to thrive in your role and in their companies so when you're deciding whether or not to disclose your disability you may have some concerns about if disclosure is right for you some of the concerns that are common that we hear from people with disabilities include the belief that people will judge them once they reveal that they have a disability before they get to know them or know what they're capable of or a fear or uncertainty about how people will react when they share the information that they are a person with a disability they also have concerns about disclosing and how it will impact their career including the likelihood that they may not be selected as the applicant of choice or that they might not get the key assignment that they need to move their career forward others just have a concern about not knowing how to have the conversation and preparing for the conversation is part of what we will talk about today because our experience has shown that people have had great success when disclosing and requesting an accommodation some of the success stories we hear include receiving the technology that they need to be successful and work more efficiently in their role others have received an adjusted work schedule which helps them to do their most productive work and others have been able to share the communication techniques that work best for them so that they can understand directions more effectively and be more efficient in their work for others it's opened up a dialogue with their managers where they can share symptoms or have a key code word to use when they're having a bad day and even others received flexible schedule or extra support when they really needed it to allow them to flex their work schedule to be able to produce their best work and overall just a general empathy from their managers when they were open and discussed what they needed but as I mentioned determining whether to disclose will be a decision at different touch points with different potential or current employers the keys to disclosing when and in a way that allows you to present your best self the decision process starts as early as during the application process and throughout the recruiting process or perhaps it might take place after the offer so let's just take a moment to look through these different touch points first during the application process you may be asked early on in filling out an application whether you identify as a person with a disability it's important to note that this is considered self ID and it's information that's generally used for data collection and it's not used to grant an accommodation so if you need an accommodation during the recruiting process you need to be sure to identify that further on with a recruiter prior to the interview process this may take the form of needing extra time if you're doing case studies or a coding test or perhaps you would prefer a Skype interview versus a phone interview in other examples you may want to share it during the interview process to highlight a skill or specific accomplishment or potentially to address an uncomfortable situation that might take place during the interview a very common time to request an accommodation is after the interview when you have the job offer in hand before you start the job so that you have all the tools in place that you need to hit the ground running realize that you can also request an accommodation at any time during employment if your needs change it is really important not to wait until you are struggling in your role or you're receiving negative feedback about your performance before you ask for the accommodation you want to ask for what you need so that you can always perform at your best when you have identified the best time to disclose or times to disclose because you will likely need to do it more than once in your lifetime we now come to how you can do it so that you are effectively communicating all that you need to help you bring your full strengths and skills to every professional interaction let's review four steps that you can take as you approach how to disclose your disability and they include establishing the reason for the conversation based on your needs identifying the best person for the conversation simplifying your disability and selecting a technique that works for you in terms of communication and then ultimately requesting the accommodation and helping come up with solutions that you know work for you so first let's talk about the reason for the conversation you'll need to identify are you going into this requesting an accommodation do you have a disability related need that you need met are you simply seeking to further your relationships with your team members with your manager to maybe alleviate some awkwardness about how to interact related to your specific disability perhaps you just want to break commonly held stereotypes around your disability and what people with your disability are or not capable of or perhaps you want to talk about in terms of identifying your unique strengths that you bring to the table that may have been developed as a result of living with your disability the next step is to identify the best person for the conversation research shows that most people commonly disclose to their manager once they are an employee but prior to that if you're in the recruiting process you may need to disclose to a recruiter or someone in the HR department to get your disability related needs met then you want to determine what technique or approach you're most comfortable with and communicating the details about your disability so let's review some common approaches that we recommend that seem to work for our network members first is talking about simplifying the science around your disability so you may have lived with your disability for much of your life and have a lot of medical information and background on your disability that's not necessarily relevant or necessary for this discussion so you can explain the way your unique brain works for example or how your spine functions or perhaps you want to show them the technology that you use as a support tool that can be really helpful and helping understand what your disability is and how it impacts you another tool that we have used and that we recommend is connecting with people through the metaphor identifying a metaphor that allows people to connect to and understand your disability so here's a few examples someone who lives with disability used the metaphor of managing my disabilities like sailing it may look like smooth sailing from the outside but I'm constantly adjusting the sails to ensure that I stay on course someone who lives with low vision described it as my sight is like if you put both thumbs in front of your eyes and try to see around them another individual with hearing loss describes it as it's like being at a rock concert where you can hear the voices but you can't make out the words and another individual who's dyslexic talks about trying to read a story but only seeing every other word so those are metaphors that are specific to those individuals and that really worked for them but you seek to find a metaphor that really resonated with you and your disability and helps describe it in a way that others can relate and always remember that while it may be important for you to share some of the limitations that you experience as a result of living with this disability it's also important to highlight the incredibly valuable strengths that you have developed because of a life with your disability our network members have shared with us some of the strengths that they have developed as people with disabilities and I think we can all agree that the strengths that any employer would like to have so listed here we have some of the top strengths that were identified such as being a problem solver for people who've lived with disability they've often had to problem-solve how to make the world accessible for themselves for most of their lives in many cases they're a strategic thinker because they may have had to learn differently some cases they are incredibly organized because they always have to get their work done ahead of time in anticipation that they might not be able to to deliver and if there's a flare-up of course determination and resilience are key strengths of many people who live with disabilities and then we've seen others who've been able to take on leadership roles in really identifying ways to help others understand the disability space I also want to share some of the specialized skills that you've developed these are also skills that we've heard from our network members that they've developed as a result of living with very specific disabilities so in some cases we've had people talk about how they are really excellent at seeing patterns and developing systems that others cannot see and that came as a result of living with their disability others have an innate curiosity and a creativity for approaching life or learning due to living and learning with their disability in the way that they do others have talked about heightened communication and listening abilities as a result of living with certain disabilities and of course technology is a key factor in helping people accommodate for their disability so that knowledge and that experience is critical to people and to companies to bring that perspective so finally once you identify these four steps you really really want to practice your disclosure conversation the more you practice the more you'll feel comfortable going into that setting so what's important is that you feel comfortable with what you're conveying and that it feels like more of a natural conversation and remember that there are many possible accommodations out there and we always when we train our corporate partners on the employer side we recommend that they speak with the employee about what is the best accommodation for them and what works for them because you really know what works best for you so keep in mind in requesting accommodation that 59% of accommodations cost nothing to provide and most accommodations tend to cost less than $500 so it's really not generally a hardship for employers to provide these accommodations so just to highlight a few accommodations that we have heard of that work for individuals within our network here's a few to take a look at some individuals use a smart pen which allows them to take notes and be more attentive in offices and not miss any information other individuals have used darkened rooms as a way to accommodate for their own low vision or perhaps to deal with chronic migraines we've had other individuals who find that captioned presentations is really critical in helping them be a full participant in any meeting and also captioning through different interview settings can be helpful if you're doing virtual interview settings others look for flexible schedules or an adjusted schedule can be very helpful for example if you feel extreme drowsiness perhaps due the medication in the morning just adjusting your schedule by a few hours can help be more productive and that's something that your company or your managers might be able to provide for you another simple accommodation is headphones - when we're all back in the office to be able to prevent distraction and really allow you to focus and then here we have another self accommodation from our good friend dr. Steven Shore who is also an autism expert in an autistic individual and he considers his hat in accommodation because of the often the fluorescent lights really bother him so he self accommodates with a hat and then of course I will encourage you all to take all that you learned through this ability summit and apply it to your future disclosure conversations we know that technology can really be a game changer for people with disabilities and I encourage you to explore all the great tools that Microsoft has to offer and finally at Lund connect the entire team looks to be a great resource for people with disability so we would encourage you to join our network and we look forward to continuing to work with Microsoft to create an accessible world for all Thank You Rene that was excellent definitely it went through a lot of things for me that our top of mind right now especially as you know the way that we work and collaborate has been completely changed over the last few months it's important to think through how to have these conversations and be mindful of the way that we're working now and how to best accommodate either our team members or ourselves when we think about what we need so we will go ahead and transition to Q&A so if there's anything that came up for you please feel free to submit that to us all right so question answer time now thanks for joining us Renee we also have Alyssa from Lyme connect on the line to help with some of the questions and I would love for her to introduce herself as well so we get to know her a little bit better before we dive in hi everyone my name is ELISA Brower Severini and I'm the director of engagement with mime connect that works very closely with our great corporate partners like Microsoft and I also manage our scholarship programs our fellowship applications and I'm so excited to join the conversation today thanks Alysa we are really excited to dive into some of the questions that were submitted some of them were covered in the presentation a little bit so we'll try not to be too / Pettit --iv but it does help to have some concrete examples of you know what we're talking about when we're asking for accommodations either as Canada or an intern or an existing employee we have some information that we can tell you specific to Microsoft but then our line connect representatives can also help with information that applies more broadly to other companies as well so the first one I will turn over to Rene what types of accommodations can I ask for when interviewing and virtually which I know is a very timely question right now yeah that is really timely so thanks for that question and I think many many interviews will start to be moving to a more virtual setting so it's important to think about what you might need in that setting and and what what self accommodation you can provide and what you might need to ask for from your potential employer the person you're interviewing with so first it can be helpful to know what the structure of the interview it's like if it's a if it's going to be a phone interview if it's going to use something like Microsoft teams if it's going to be a video interview all of those things can be helpful to to know about in advance also to understand how long the interview might be and how many people you might be meeting with if there's any kind of case study or coding challenge involved those are all things that are important find out about ahead of time and then depending on your disability knowing those things will will indicate what type of accommodation you might need to ask for so some things that you can think about I think I think one important thing now with this virtual setting is to see if you can test the platform in advance make sure that it works with whatever technological accommodations you might have in place if it's a screen reader for example you want to test that it's compatible with that if it's perhaps you might want to use the captioning function and if the platform doesn't offer a captioning function you may want to see if there's an alternative option if captions or something that you use this an accommodation you also want to know if you might need extra time so that's where understanding what the structure of the interview to where that comes into play because if it is a coding challenge for example or a case study you might extra time might be something that you've used in in your university or in your personal life so that might be something you'd want to request and get established ahead of time so those are a few of the things I think one key is to make sure you're communicating with in in the interview setting it would really be with the recruiter that you're working with a little bit about what your disability is and what you anticipate you might need in that setting and do it in enough advanced notice that they can put those accommodations in place so those are some very general things maybe Lisa if you have some examples of what Microsoft might provide in terms of accommodations thank you yeah and thank you for sharing out those other specific examples I think that they are really helpful for people to contextualise you know what they can ask for and what they should feel empowered to ask for I think with the virtual interviews we open up so much capability to be a lot more flexible than we have in the past we're not thinking about traveling constraints or budget concerns around how long were able to meet with someone I'm so one that came to mind that is definitely an option at Microsoft but then is something that you should for sure feel empowered to ask for other companies as well is to have interview spread out over multiple days I know in the past historically the Microsoft interview and a lot of other big tech companies to us felt like a marathon like maybe five or six in one day back-to-back and whether or not you need extra time for an interview or maybe a 30-minute break in between each interview or even you know multiple interview spread out over multiple days that's something that is reasonable to ask for and it's something that may not always be built into the schedule and may not have been built into the schedule previously because of travel constraints but it's something that you should feel like you can ask for again you know this open line of communication that you have with your recruiter you know yourself well and you know what you need to feel successful so something something simple such as informing the interviewer maybe that you would like to use video instead of just a phone call if that's helpful for you or if you are a lip-reader and you need to make sure that the person you're interviewing with isn't backlit and you can clearly see their face that's another thing that you could ask for but hopefully you feel empowered and you're connected to someone within the HR function wherever you're interviewing so that you can have that open dialogue and let them know what you prefer and and what is going to help you be the most successful and comfortable in your interview environment so we have another question what examples of accommodations can Microsoft share for both candidates interns and employees I can go ahead and get into that a little bit we've talked a lot about candidates and kind of the examples of what is common for people to ask for in the interview setting and I will say that you know everything that Rene mentioned people should feel free to ask for it Microsoft specifically I'll also say that every job description on our global career site contains a link to an accommodation request form so that really is there for you to disclose as much or as little as you like and ask us for what you need to help make your experience more inclusive and more accessible so if you're having trouble input inputting information in your application from your resume for example you should tell us or if you're interested in using a different coding platform like Rene mentioned that is more accessible for you for your interviews that's where you can let us know or if you're you know looking at that site and it's just not working for you and it's not feeling as accessible as you want it to be you can let us know there that you're having issues too for interns we are in completely new territory this year with virtual internships and so anytime there's really rapid change there's also a lot of room for growth so if there are any intern logged in right now to this call we do want to know if you're having any access issues so much of what we've done in the past for interns is completely different this year and we know that our intern program is working really hard to make sure that everything is accessible and that they're being super proactive about the activities they're scheduling and the different things that they're doing for the intern program but we also know that mistakes happen and that things fall through so if you're experiencing any issues we want to know about it as soon as possible and you can submit that information into D careers at Microsoft comm or go through that accessibility form on the your sight or you can interface directly with your recruiter at Microsoft to let them know that you're having issues whatever you feel most comfortable with and then as far as on the job accommodations go our interns at Microsoft are eligible for all of the same support as our full-time employees we have a dedicated benefits team that helps field those requests so if you need something to help do your job more effectively you can reach out to benefits at Microsoft comm and they'll help field your request either if it needs to go directly to your manager they'll help you with that kind of a conversation or if you need some technology if there's something else going on they'll they'll help you with that as well and then some examples for that could be as Rene mentioned maybe captioning services for those larger meetings if that helps you or you could also ask for meeting notes or a record of specific action items for from one-on-ones that you have or you know the use of specific adaptive technology if that's what you need and the benefits team can help you navigate some of that if you need help with that and then for our internal employees same information really applies there you should feel empowered to join those employee affinity groups or our employee resource groups to learn from your peers and kind of gather information from people who have already done a lot of the things that you probably are trying to do that's a really great resource for information but then also the benefits team will will help with more specific requests and then you have another question Lisa can I just jump in for a minute sure absolutely okay I just wanted to add a few general things general accommodations now in this new virtual environment which everybody is experiencing that and things that we're hearing and people are requesting because we are so much time we're spending so much of our time now in front of a screen and that can be really exhausting it can lead to hearing fatigue it can list lead to you know migraines and and eyestrain some other things that people are asking for I'm requesting or just self accommodating is some adjusted schedules for some people it might be that they need to start a little bit later and then work a little bit later blocks of time that might be screen free that maybe they're available by phone or some meetings are just by phone to give everyone a little break from the screen or to be able to walk away and really relax all of those muscles that are being strained you already mentioned a couple of the other ones recordings of meetings is it's really being helpful and then I just encourage people especially as your interns are starting to to really set themselves up and establish a good work environment that's that works well for themselves so making sure they're taking breaks but also setting up their workspace so that they have a comfortable setting for themselves and another thing can just be trying to establish some boundaries when we work in the same place where we live it can be hard to to end your work Jay so thinking about that is important for your mental health as well so just like to add those few things Thank You Renee those are really important considerations and I'm glad that you brought them up and I think that they apply for so many different types of people and so many different disability segments to be mindful of and especially right now with all the stress that we're all under I'm wondering as well if Alissa has anything or any additional perspective to add on this question sure yeah I just wanted to echo renamed last point because I had requested this just recently for ergonomic ly having a supportive workspace you may as you may be adjusting to your new workspace and not really understanding what your work schedule is quite yet you start working on our you may not understand the type of strain you may have on your on your neck on any parts of your body depending on the workspace that you've created so just understanding the different organ AMA changes that you can make whether that's elevating your pc or laptop having a remote keyboard and mouse can make a world of difference and also as someone who has a mental health condition sunlight is incredibly important to me so even if it's just being able to sit near a window taking a walk outside you may not be things that you'll need for an interview but kind of thinking ahead when you're in the workplace and starting a regular routine those are personally things that have helped me thanks for sharing that ELISA I am 100% there with you and also with Renee and thinking that it is really nice also to just turn that video off and get outside sometimes for meetings and walk around and relieve some of that stress and get some exposure and some some sunlight we have another question here how do I identify the best person to whom I should disclose or ask for an accommodation and from a Microsoft perspective you know the answer to this question can vary when it comes to needing a specific accommodation I've already a little bit touched on the benefits team being the best resource to help deliver on that but if you're finding that it's something interpersonal that would help for one of your teammates or one of your colleague colleagues or your direct manager to know about you in order to understand the way that you work it's absolutely also appropriate to disclose directly to them if it's not something like a scheduling concern or it's not something like meeting an interpreter which which would be like a benefits team type of a question those are probably the best places to start but if you're not comfortable disclosing and you just want to learn more about the community and more about the other people who have whatever disability you may have as well and how they function in the work environment I always point people back to our employee resource groups to start there so that you can find some camaraderie and some common ground with other people and understand maybe a little bit about what their experiences were like when they disclosed what kind of positive or negative experiences they had and kind of best practice sharing within the group within the specific company culture that you're a part of it can be helpful to start there and that can also help alleviate some anxiety or stress around the decision but we'd love to hear more from our lime connect partners - on this one sure I'll I'll speak first and then ELISA if you have any other thoughts you can add them in I think I would echo exactly what Lisa said for other companies as well and I think it really you may have a benefits person that handles accommodations and I think if you're in the workplace and you are working within a team and you have a manager it can be really important to open those lines of communication with your manager in some cases you saw some of the accommodations we talked about both in in the video in during the presentation and through the QA and a lot of those things managers can can decide on their own so those are things that you might want to really open up that dialogue with your manager and it can help them understand how you can be more productive in your role which is something a manager really wants to be able to help you do that's important to your effectiveness on the team so trying to live in the manager if you feel comfortable with that and opening those lines of communication can be really really valuable and then the manager may not know necessarily right now right off the bat what they need to do or what types of accommodations are available so they may need to go Loup other people in to find out what is available but if you're still exploring it you have some concerns as Lisa said I think a orgies are a great way to to kind of test it out get a sense of what other people have have requested what they've been granted how that conversation went just to really have sort of a sounding board for for your own disclosure conversation can be really important and then of course if you're in the interviewing stage you'll want to find the recruiter that you're working with most directly with you try and work through what accommodations you would need ELISA did I miss anything is there anything you want to add yeah I would just add if even you're uncomfortable reaching out to someone within the company that you may be working for consider joining the lime Network and we have a large community over 17,000 members of from the United States and Canada who can also be a peer resource for you for individuals who may have had similar interviews maybe in some levels that you are interviewing for or just different experiences and you want kind of that outside perspective that is also available to you although like Rene and Lisa said yardies are a perfect resource because they are again peers of yours as well but they also have to know how of that specific company's benefits procedures and what things have worked for them and I would also just say I know Rene had mentioned this in the presentation is just consider when is the most comfortable time for you to do so and when it's going to make you successful because if an accommodation can help you thrive in your role it's really important to have that to have that tool to help you be your best self so just think along in the process while you're making that decision of whether you are going to disclose but that can be something that's incredibly helpful for your success in your position Thank You Alyssa we are coming up on time for our session today and I just wanted to say thank you so much both to Renee and Alyssa from 1connect for joining us and really leading this discussion on disclosure and accommodations it's really relevant especially right now when we're all kind of figuring out a new way of work to be really transparent with ourselves and what our limits are and what we need in order to feel supported either in the interview stage or through an internship or through employment I can't emphasize that enough we as employers want our employees and our colleagues and our managers to feel like they have everything that they need to do the jobs that they've been hired to do and so many of these things like Renee mentioned are simple and are easy to deliver on and make everyone work and collaborate better so I'm so glad that we have the opportunity to have the discussion today and hope that you enjoyed it and once the recording is available you'll share it so that we can all work towards making our work environments more inclusive and more accessible for people with disabilities so I just want to say thank you and goodbye thank you
College students with disabilities tell about work-based learning experiences and show how to gain access to these opportunities.

Description of the video:

[ Music ]
[Narrator] Plan it.
[Narrator]Try it.
[Narrator] Do it.
[Narrator] It's Your Career
[Narrator] It's that moment you've been waiting for,
when all those years of college will start to pay off.
At least, they will for some people.
[Jean] I think there's a myth
that if you have a college degree,
you've got a job no matter what, and that's not accurate.
About 20 percent of college graduates are underemployed.
And the reason is partly because while they're
in college they really don't start preparing
for the job search.
[ Music ]
[Narrator] You need a career-seeking strategy
and a little experience, otherwise you're likely
to be just another face in the crowd, another resume
in a stack of hundreds.
And that's true for anyone, with or without a disability.
[Debbie] The academics alone are not enough.
You really should think about an internship
or a cooperative education experience.
[Narrator] Internships
and cooperative education experiences offer work-based
learning opportunities.
They're arranged between schools, employers and students;
they may involve academic credit; and,
sometimes, they're even paid.
The sooner you start checking these out, the better.
[Brent] Biggest thing I would say, is start early.
Because I started my sophomore year,
and I think that was the prime time to start.
[Narrator] Brent is a success story.
While in college, he found a program that places students
in business and engineering internships.
Between that program and his own skills, he was accepted
for two internships at Primex Aerospace.
He liked the company right from the start,
and those internships helped him clearly define his career plans.
[Brent] I knew at the end of my first internship
which areas I didn't want to go into, which is just as helpful
as what you do want to possibly do; so, like,
weeded out the ones I didn't want to do; I didn't want
to do electrical engineering and that kind
of stuff, it just bored me.
So I was, like, all right, I've narrowed down the focus
because I know what I don't want to do.
And so I went back, these are the kinds of jobs I want to do,
and they said, 'All right, we'll try and set you up.'
[Narrator] Attitude and talent paid off.
When Brent graduated, there was a job waiting for him at Primex.
[John] When Brent came in through his internship here,
into the quality department,
we found that he could do the job and excel in his job.
So we basically knew when he was going back to college
for his last few semesters that we wanted to make sure
that we brought him back, because we needed
that expertise that he brought in.
[Brent] If you have the internship with the company
and they know your work style, and they want you
to keep coming back for your second
and third internship, it's totally cake.
It's really easy to get in and it works very well.
[Narrator] While not every internship will lead
to a job offer, there are other benefits as well.
For example, there can be a lot of self-discovery.
[Debbie] I'd say it's typical
that most students don't know what they're actually going
to be doing in the workplace;
and probably even more important,
don't understand what motivates them and what doesn't.
And doing a co-op or an internship is a low risk way
to discover, what do you like to do,
before you're actually out in the workplace.
You can discover that in 3 to 6 months instead of the 18
to 24 months of a typical first job.
[Narrator] It can also be the first step on the road
to independence, especially if the internship is out of town.
[Minda] I think it was a good stepping stone
to make me realize what it's like to work
in the business world.
And also just to live on my own.
I lived on my own this whole summer, so it's good for that.
[Narrator] You'll also learn that you have
to bring something to the company.
[Randy] Especially in information technology,
they're looking for someone that's going to come out
and be a quote unquote fast burner.
[ Phone rings ]
[Randy]: Hi, ITS Help, this is Randy
[Randy]They're going to want somebody that's going to,
you know, be going to get the, you know, the job done
and wanting to learn from the internship.
They can't have somebody just come in
and kind of sit there all day.
[Co-worker] Hey, Randy
[Narrator] You have to treat an internship just
as you would a 'real' job.
Develop a confident and cooperative attitude.
[Randy] You have to work with your co-workers.
No person works alone.
And you always have to work with the team,
especially in this day and age.
A lot of people coming out of college are very cocky
about their position: I'm new, I'm fresh,
I know all this stuff;
and that's what hurts a lot of people.
You've got to realize that you are still learning.
[Narrator] Randy became involved
in an information technology cooperative education program
at Weyerhaeuser Company.
As with most companies, they expected more
than just basic skills.
[Debbie] Technical capability is important, but it's maybe 15%
of what makes a successful contributor.
[Randy] So what I'll do is I'll have a technician come
and fix those pins for you.
[Debbie] Communication skills, interpersonal skills,
self-motivation, and initiative are some key attributes
that we look for.
We also are looking for a high level of integrity,
because that's very important to us at Weyerhaeuser Company.
[Narrator] Randy helped people with computer problems.
And since he's blind, he had to learn how
to interface his own adaptive technology with other systems.
[Randy] Every place you go to is going
to be using different stuff, and so you're always going to have
to make a little accommodation.
But every time you go to a new spot,
I take the same adaptive equipment with me.
And so I learn a few more tricks about it in, you know,
adapting to the new situation.
Which, whenever I go to the next place, I'll be able to,
you know, apply those skills that I learned
in just using the software that I'm using.
And the hardware.
[Narrator] And there was another accommodation Randy had to make;
one that was completely unexpected.
His supervisor turned out to be allergic to his guide dog.
[Randy] So I had to make some accommodations for her, in fact.
Things like heavy grooming, using special powders or salves
to keep down whatever it is that causes dog allergies.
It's kind of interesting, I've never had
to actually make an accommodation
for another person before, besides other disabled people,
so it's kind of interesting to have to work with her.
[Narrator] Work-based learning gives you a chance
to practice those communication skills.
[Narrator] Employers need to work with you on accommodations.
But they can't read your mind,
and they may sometimes be uncomfortable
about what to ask or do.
You need to become an expert on what works
and doesn't work for you.
Learn to articulate your needs clearly.
[John] You're paving the way for other people, too.
You know, because employers are as much interested
in what they need to do to make sure their workplace is
accessible, and the only way
that they can really truly understand what the needs are is
when they have people that are interns and such like that,
that they can come in and have to deal
with a few physical barriers that have to be removed.
[Narrator] Besides internships
or cooperative education programs,
there are other opportunities for work-based learning.
Job shadowing allows you to visit a business
and observe people at work.
It's a good way to start narrowing your career goals.
[Employer] There would be someone here 24 hours a day.
[Camp volunteer] Write your name.
[Narrator] Service learning is volunteer work, allowing you
to use your skills while making a contribution
to your community.
You may even be able to arrange academic credit.
[Dan] You want to go into the Internet folder.
[Narrator] A faculty member can help you develop an independent
study project.
This could be career research, or it might be a paid job
in your field which you discover on your own.
And while you're doing any of these things,
you'll be gaining valuable experience in writing resumes
and cover letters, as well
as practicing your interview skills.
And that is vital for your job hunt.
[Jean] The job search, on the average, will take a student 6
to 9 months to complete.
Getting, you know, your research in on the companies,
getting your materials in order, your resume,
practicing your interviewing skills,
sending out those resumes, actually getting an offer,
is a very long tedious process.
It really is competitive out there;
it really involves being prepared by practicing,
you know, your own interview skills, knowing how you're going
to present yourself; things of that sort
that are real important.
[ Music ]
[Narrator] Besides content, you have to think packaging.
[ Music ]
[Narrator] When you go to an interview,
leave that casual campus look behind.
A professional image is absolutely required,
no matter where you're applying.
Take out the nose and eyebrow rings, and let your resume
and personality speak louder than your clothing.
[Narrator] Informational interviews will help you gain
job information, interview experience,
and networking opportunities.
[Interviewer] Nice to meet you.
[Narrator] It's also a good time
to practice disclosing your disability
and discussing accommodations.
[Jean] There are jobs out there.
The best way to find out about them, I think,
is through networking and informational interviews.
That's something students can often find people are willing
to talk with them while they're in school and tell them
about how they got into their jobs; but once they graduate,
employers are less likely to take the time and help them out.
[Narrator] Another resource is the Career Center
or Career Services Office on campus.
They'll have information on employers
and current job openings.
There may also be job fairs, workshops,
or counselors available to help
with career planning and job searching.
Make some calls.
[Randy] Go do it.
You just have a go-getter attitude,
and somebody will eventually see that and they will bring you on.
[Narrator] To get started, you could use the CAREERS acronym,
developed by the DO-IT Center at the University of Washington.
[Narrator] So, long before commencement looms,
get going on some real-world experiences.
Start doing everything you can now
to make yourself attractive to future employers.
The resources are available; you have to make use of them.
[Randy] There's a lot of people out there.
A lot of people competing for jobs.
But it helps because I know some of the stuff.
I've got some of the experience.
I've worked with some of the gurus and masters.
And I've learned from them.
[Narrator] And you can do it too.
The director of the Fehribach Center shares how their program helps IU students with disabilities find meaningful internships.

Description of the video:

>> The Fehribach Center is an internship program
for college students in Indiana who has some form
of a physical disability.
We first reached out IU a few years ago and the reception
at IU was fantastic for the program.
In fact so much that I think IU has become the model
for the Fehribach Center in how the relationship
between disability services and career services should work.
This is a group of individuals who may be the best people
for particular jobs but just haven't been given the
opportunity in the past.
Michael Hardin, for example,
a student at IU Indianapolis has interned two years
with the Fehribach Center.
>> I work as a victim advocate at the Center of Hope,
providing resources to victims that come through.
I'm totally blind so I utilize a screen reader.
It's been amazing.
I've gained some great transferrable skills,
built my professional identity.
I feel like the partnership actually gave me a chance
to find out what I want to do and gave me an opportunity
to make some good connections in that world.
>> IU Bloomington student, Paige Moore.
Paige is looking to create, you know,
various different experiences that will help her as she seeks
to go to graduate school.
>> For career wise, I want to be a neuroscientist
and a neuropsychologist.
I told Larry that I was interested
in how diet impact neurological disorders
and mental health disorders.
This year I was granted with the amazing opportunity to work
at Eskenazi Health in their wellness center.
So I get to work.
So I get to work with dieticians and lifestyle coaches.
I am hard of hearing.
I lost my hearing when I was very young
so I use an interpreter especially in the workplace
and then I knew that was going to be a struggle
with finding even an internship.
So with the Fehribach program, since they offer internships
to students with disabilities,
I knew that that would be a good fit for me
because they would be able
to accommodate my disability regardless of whatever I needed.
>> Thirty-nine different employers host interns
from the Fehribach Center.
So large places such as Eli Lilly, Cummins.
We have a lot of nonprofits
that host Fehribach Center interns as well.
So what started with one student has now grown
to where we've had 195 students do a total of 396 internships.
My passion behind the Fehribach Center is that I want
to see these really talented
and highly qualified college students and graduates
with physical disabilities get the experiences that they need
so that they can be really strong candidates
for equitable employment after graduation.

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