Improve campus visits for job seekers with disabilities (notice)

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When designing campus tours for job applicants, colleges and universities should understand that there are many factors that can create barriers that prevent applicants from fully demonstrating their talents. These obstacles may have a particular impact on applicants with disabilities by creating contexts that alter them on the situational level. The reality is that people have different abilities and functions, and we can all acquire limitations at any time. As such, institutions need to be more intentional in designing and planning an accessible and inclusive campus visit.

In order to improve the experience of all job applicants, colleges and universities must first re-examine their perceptions of abilities and qualifications. People with disabilities can be a real asset for institutions. Haben Girma discusses at length the breakthroughs in innovation that people with disabilities bring to a wide range of disciplines and industries. Most importantly, hiring people with disabilities increases diversity and inclusion on campus. What would it mean for students, many of whom may or may become disabled, to see teachers and administrators with disabilities fully engage in their chosen profession?

By addressing accessibility for people with disabilities – including those with sensory, cognitive, mobility and mental health impairments – institutions can begin to meaningfully design a usable and inclusive campus environment for all. In contrast, an exclusive campus tour can deter top candidates from showing off their diversity and brilliance. Worse yet, it can damage the self-confidence of a person with a disability, when they are actually not the “problem”.

Campus tours are meant to allow a candidate to showcase their skills, abilities, and potential value to the campus. But too often campus tours are designed as a kind of glove, testing the endurance of even able-bodied people. In many, if not most cases, every minute is scheduled; every possible person who might have a distant need to meet the candidate is inserted into a space. Candidates are executed – sometimes literally – from room to room. Breaks are provided reluctantly, if at all. And the snacks, if available, are generally sweet and sweet. It’s like we think of physical endurance as a sign of mental toughness. And applicants with disabilities often leave a visit feeling their limits more acutely.

A proactive approach to visiting the campus demonstrates the institution’s commitment to equity and inclusion, extends the market reach to talented candidates, and anticipates accommodations that candidates may require. Here are some practical suggestions on what you can do in advance to scan the environment, identify possible obstacles, and design welcoming and successful candidate visits to your campus.

  1. Travel and time all the routes you expect from the candidate. You don’t need to use a wheelchair to see what design factors may hinder participation, including uneven pavement, construction barriers, insufficient ramps, etc. If possible, limit the number of places a candidate will have to attend during their day.
  2. Map the location of accessible entrances and elevators. People with disabilities told us that they regularly – even if they carry a cane – led to stairs instead of elevators. All people should be directed to the elevators. Also indicate the location of toilets and other private facilities, such as prayer or breastfeeding rooms. And all meeting rooms should be close to the washrooms.
  3. Take note of any disruptive sensory interruptions that may arise. These can include construction sounds, alarms, bells to signal the start and end of classes, chimes that strike the hours, loud traditions on campus, and more. Provide the candidate with a schedule and map of these campus-specific noises.
  4. Examine meeting rooms and other spaces to ensure adequate room for movement. Even if a candidate does not use a wheelchair, cane, walker or crutches, they may still have a condition that makes it difficult to navigate in tight spaces. Evaluate how the candidate will reach the podium, as well as how they will use any necessary technology.
  5. Make sure the room has adequate lighting and sound quality. Make sure all rooms are well lit. In addition, do not choose rooms with dead spaces that the candidate will have to avoid. Note the availability of microphones and assistive listening devices for the candidate or those in the audience. Make microphones available for all presentations.
  6. If applicants will be accommodated in university residences, include these locations in your preliminary analysis. Does the household have any pets or smell of mold? Are the toilets accessible? Can the host provide adequate seating and so on? Don’t expect contestants to stand for an entire reception while balancing a plate and a drink.
  7. Allow applicants to provide teaching and research presentations via video. Many candidates may have already recorded their teaching to improve their practice, and many websites offer advice on how to do this successfully. Converting high-stakes presentations to virtual events allows the present time of a campus visit to be spent on the candidate’s goal. ideas.
  8. Convert non-essential conversations to video conferences. Schedule interviews with those not involved in hiring decisions, such as a related program manager, and briefings on topics such as benefits and pensions in the form of pre-visit video conferences.
  9. Reinvent – or cancel – the campus and city tour. If your campus offers an accessible virtual tour, send this link with the tour invitation.
  10. If teachers provide transportation for certain events, make sure their vehicles are accessible and clean. In most cases, the best option may be to provide an institutional vehicle. Ask the candidate if one type of vehicle is more accessible than another. Having to crawl in a van is not pleasant at the best of times, but it can also be painful for people with disabilities or disabilities. Likewise, a mini coupe can be uncomfortable for others.
  11. Start and end the day at reasonable times. Some candidates may, due to medication, move slowly in the morning; others may have difficulty sleeping in a hotel room. If you want the candidate to give you their best performance, give them the rest to do it. Plan to give the candidate 10 to 12 hours in their hotel room: at least eight hours for sleeping and two for dressing and reviewing notes.
  12. Take breaks. Plan at least one substantive break in the morning and afternoon. During this break, give the candidate privacy. Do not surround them with people at all times. Allow them to discreetly take their medications or check their blood sugar. Also, don’t combine breaks with other activities: if a candidate needs to make sure their technology is working, it’s not a break. Provide technical support before and during any meeting.
  13. Know and take into account the candidate’s dietary requirements and preferences. Give them information about the different possible restaurants before the visit. Since restaurant websites are often not accessible, you may need to glean and share information from menus. Yes, this approach sacrifices some of the whimsy and fun of letting faculty members show off their favorite dive, but it also ensures that all applicants will be able to eat.
  14. Make sure meeting rooms are near accessible washrooms that are gender-appropriate. This allows the candidate to use free minutes to take a break, wash their face, breathe. If you need to move the candidate from one position to another, allow a reasonable amount of time for the transitions.
  15. To follow. Ask for feedback on the quality of the campus visit preparations and the candidate’s experience. Specify that any comments will be kept confidential from the faculty or administrators concerned until the research process is completed and an offer has been extended.

A poorly designed campus visit can place a candidate in the awkward position of feeling themselves will disqualify them in itself. In contrast, a well-designed inclusive tour allows the campus to refine its commitment to inclusion. Campus staff participating in the tour will also have the opportunity to recognize their unconscious biases and hopefully address them.

Handicaps gently remind us that life is infinitely varied and force us to improve friendliness for all. Designing accessible and inclusive campus tours allows your institution to make it clear that it values ​​human difference. As our colleague John L. Graham says, how an institution treats people with disabilities is a measure of its values ​​in the broad sense. It comes down to analyzing ableism, questioning our assumptions, and treating all people with empathy and generosity. The candidate will leave your campus and tell stories about their experience there: make these stories the ones you want to be judged on.


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