During the hiring process, there are considerations related to the ADA, from creating a job posting to the interview.

Creating and Posting Job Openings

When drafting a job posting, it is important to avoid words and phrases that, directly or indirectly, discourage a candidate from applying for a job because of disability. The exclusionary impact can be direct or indirect as well as intentional or unintentional. Some seemingly innocuous job requirements might improperly exclude otherwise qualified individuals. For instance, it is not uncommon to see job postings that list out “physical demands” for a position and then include specific requirements, such as lifting, standing, climbing, etc. All of these words have the potential to discourage individuals with disabilities who are capable of performing the job tasks, although not necessarily in the same manner as other candidates.

In drafting a job posting, supervisors, managers, and HR representatives are encouraged to focus on the specific tasks to be performed (e.g., “inspecting equipment and making necessary repairs”) rather than listing out the kinds of actions that an individual might perform in order to perform that task (e.g., “bending” to inspect equipment and “crouching” to make the repairs). By focusing on the task itself, the position requirement is clearly communicated, but also recognizes that there may be multiple ways in which those tasks can be achieved that do not necessarily require the prescribed physical movements.

In preparing job postings and listing essential functions, it is also helpful to provide some notion of frequency, intensity, environment, or duration of a particular task. Postings may also describe the customary performance of a task, but should include words such as “typically” and “or otherwise” to acknowledge the possibility that alternate manners of performance may be reasonable.

The below chart provides a list of common words/phrases that should be avoided as well as suggested alternatives. If further assistance is required for a particular job posting, please contact the Office for Institutional Equity.

StrengthMoves/transports, Removes/replaces, Puts, Positions/places, Installs/takes out, TransfersMust be able to lift 50 poundsRoutinely moves audio/visual equipment weighing up to 50 pounds across campus for various classroom and event needs.
Walking, running, stooping, kneeling, crouching, or crawlingMoves (about or to), Traverses, Positions self (to)Must be able to bend and crouch under desks to install computer equipmentConstantly positions self in order to install computer equipment in various locations, under furniture and desks
Talking or hearingCommunicates, Discerns, Discusses, Detects, Conveys, Expresses oneself, Converses with, Exchanges informationMust be able to speak clearly to customers”Frequently communicates with customers
SeeingDetects, Identifies, Estimates, Inspects, Assesses, Determines, Recognizes, Judges, Compares, Distinguishes, Perceives, Discerns, ObservesMust be able to see clearly and visually inspect sites for safety”Frequently inspects sites in order to accurately detect safety concerns
Reaching, handling, or feelingDetects, Removes/replaces, Attaches, Handles/tends, Measures, Signals, Compiles/retrieves, Collects, Serves/services, Diagnoses, Operates, Positions, Applies, Uses, Inputs, Makes/constructs, Inspects, Installs/places, Adjusts, Sets up, Activates, feeds, or controls, Modifies, Drafts/writes, Creates/fabricates, PreparesMust have dexterity to use machine control-panelFrequently operates machine using built-in control-panel
Climbing or balancingAscends/descends, Works atop, TraversesMust climb ladders to service lightsOccasionally ascends to elevated locations within a building in order to service lights
Drive/Driver’s licenseTravel toMust have valid driver’s license because position involves driving to various locations across the stateFrequently travels to various locations across the state
Other demandsDetects, Discerns, Remains stationary, Uses, Exposed to, Perceives, Works aroundMust be able to stand for extended period of timeExpected to remain in stationary for entire 8-hour shift
Accommodations for Job Applicants

The University’s responsibility to provide reasonable accommodations applies to applicants as well as individuals who are currently employed at the University. Hiring supervisors and managers must provide reasonable accommodations to a qualified applicant with a disability in order to grant that applicant equal access to the hiring process. Such accommodations can include, but are not limited to: modifications to the interview process (e.g., allowing a Skype or Google Chat interview instead of a phone interview), changing interview locations (e.g., ensuring that interview appointments are held in accessible rooms or in buildings located near parking spaces or drop off locations), or accepting application materials through alternate avenues (e.g., accepting a hard-copy application instead of requiring the materials be submitted through UM’s online application portal).

In addition to individual requests for accommodations in the application process, supervisors and managers are encouraged to notify all applicants of what the hiring process involves (for example, an interview, timed written test, or job demonstration), and then ask whether the applicants will need a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this process.

What You May Ask During an Applicant Interview

Generally, supervisors and managers should avoid asking an applicant any questions that are likely to reveal the existence of a disability before making a job offer. For example, questions that could potentially reveal an applicant’s disability include: “Do you have a heart condition?”, “Do you have asthma or any other difficulties breathing?”, “Do you have a disability which would interfere with your ability to perform the job?”, “How many days were you sick last year?”, “Have you ever filed for workers’ compensation?”, “What prescription drugs are you taking?” However, such questions and medical examinations may be permitted after extending a job offer, but before the individual begins work, so long supervisors and managers ask the same questions of other applicants offered the same type of job.

If an applicant has an obvious disability or discloses a disability during the application process and it is reasonable to question whether the disability might impact their ability to perform a specific job task, then the hiring supervisor or manager may ask whether the applicant needs a reasonable accommodation to perform that task. If the applicant indicates that an accommodation will be necessary, then the supervisor or manager may ask what accommodation is needed.

Creating an Inclusive Environment

In addition to providing reasonable accommodations for individuals who disclose a disability and request accommodations, the University encourages all members of the community to consider proactive ways to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for faculty, staff, students, customers, and other members of the community. The following resources provide some suggestions and guidance:

  • Disability Awareness training slides
  • Tips for Inclusive Events