Improving employment outcomes for students with disabilities is getting a little easier these days on college campuses as more and more employers are embracing disability inclusion. To help our differently abled students be prepared for the job market, we have gathered a few ideas on ways career services and disability services might work together to assist students. Below are a few ideas to get the conversation started.
Start the Conversation: Establish/Improve Career Center and Disability Services Office (DSO) Collaboration & Communication
- Appoint liaisons from the career center and disability office to work together.
- Schedule monthly meetings.
- Create a calendar of events for each school year.
Create Your Team
- In addition to career and disability personnel, consider identifying other staff and faculty members who can help determine what supports are needed for students with disabilities and how each office can best provide those services.
Identify Your Students With Disabilities
- Create a voluntary release form giving the DSO permission to share students’ names with the career center.
- Create a list of students and/or devise a method of communicating with students with disabilities, e.g., listserv, email list, and website.
Provide Training Where Needed – Suggested Topics
Training for career center staff
- Address the specific needs of job seekers with disabilities.
- Provide information about general disabilities, the language, and best practices.
Training for students
- Provide soft skill training and effectively disclosing a disability to an employer.
- Discuss how to identify disability-friendly employers.
Training for employers
- Include such topics as workplace accommodations, the disclosure process, and tips on recruiting, hiring, and retaining employees with disabilities.
Training for DSO staff
- Include such topics as the interview and recruitment process.
Establish Programming Goals, Services, and Events
- Create educational opportunities to give students with disabilities the tools to be successful – disclosing to an employer during mock interviews, accommodations for an interview during mock interviews, and so forth.
- Create a method – online or in person – to educate employers on the university process.
- Educate students on internship programs specifically for students with disabilities.
- Create a method of identifying disability-friendly employers to students.
- Establish a method of communicating disability-friendly jobs and disability career fairs.
Provide Ongoing Education & Awareness
- Annually share information on the number of students with disabilities on campus, both apparent and nonapparent. Having DSOs share this information gives employers and career services an idea of the number and scope of individuals with disabilities on campus. This also helps students with disabilities feel less alone knowing there are other students just like them on campus.
- Educate students, employers, and career services on the pros, cons, and process of disability disclosure. This includes, for students, when in the process to disclose, if opting to do so, and how to explain the accommodations needed.
- Make sure students with disabilities are aware of their resources.
- Educate students on the improved environment for employment of students with disabilities, especially among companies that have made a concerted effort to hire more individuals with disabilities. When appropriate, encourage students to consider disclosing their disability without fear of exclusion.
- Draw attention to “disability-friendly” employers on campus and their job postings.
- DSO can help career services stay up to date on the OFCCP, best practices in working with students with disabilities, and related best practices.
Evaluate Your Program
- Consider conducting an annual self-assessment review and review and update goals.
For more information, or if you are interested in the work of the National Association of Colleges and Employer’s (NACE) Individuals with Disabilities Affinity Impact Team, please contact Cindy Price Verduce (260-422-5561 ext. 2217) or Sue Keever Watts (214-415-0330 ), co-leads, by your preferred method.