Ep 218 – Creating Jobs for People with Disabilities

I’m reading a lot of buzz on the internet about accessibility and technology. I love that more companies are considering accessibility for their employees and in their hiring processes. That’s what this Workology Podcast Future of Work Series with PEAT is all about. I wanted to hear more about assistive technology from an expert who helps train, lead, and coach every single day. Where is the future of assistive technology going for people with disabilities and what things do HR and workplace leaders need to do more of to make their workplaces and business more inclusive and accessible? 

Episode 218: How Employers Can Create Jobs for People with Disabilities (@RunReymaRun)

This episode of the Workology Podcast is part of our Future of Work series powered by PEAT, the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology. In honor of the upcoming 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act this July, we’re investigating what the next 30 years will look like for people with disabilities at work, and the potential of emerging technologies to make workplaces more inclusive and accessible. Today, I’m joined by Reyma McDeid. Reyma is the executive director of Central Iowa Center for Independent Living (winner of the 2018 Organization of the Year award from the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission) and serves as treasurer for both the National Council on Independent Living and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. She is the recipient of a 2019 AT&T Humanity of Connection award and her 2018 run for office was endorsed by the Working Families Party, the Asian & Latino Coalition, and Iowa Women for Progressive Change.

How Job Postings Are Hurting Your Disability Recruiting Efforts

Reyma works with employers helping them hire, recruit and retain people with disabilities. She shares that employer’s common practices and strategies to hire employees are preventing employers from attracting and hiring people with disabilities. She says that job descriptions commonly used in job postings are often so comprehensive and broad that people with disabilities don’t meet all the qualifications or have all the experience required to apply and ultimately get the job. She suggests breaking down the job into smaller parts and very specific tasks.

This reforming how we view our hiring processes and the expected work can be a challenge, but there are so many great rewards especially when you consider the number of people with disabilities who are unemployment and are unable to find work. Not only can employers hire qualified workers, but they are also helping to create a workforce that encourages diversity and inclusion.

Reyma suggests employers who want to hire more people with disabilities, should focus on job creation from their own human capital needs. At Cicil where she works, they work with employers to conduct a job site needs analysis that uncovers what their unmet job needs are. Her team then matches an employer with a job seeker who experiences a disability and can meet those unmet jobs, tasks, and/or human capital needs. Working this way shifts the employer mind set to how can I ensure that that my needs are being met versus focusing solely on employing people with disabilities. She says by thinking this way everyone wins.

When we feel that it's safe to disclose their disability, it is always going to positively impact work output and work performance. - @runreymarun #podcast #ada30 #diversity #hr Click To Tweet

Why Are People with Disabilities Often Separate from Corporate D&I Efforts 

One thing I have noticed and I asked Reyma about is how it seems that people with disabilities left out or separate from D&I efforts. Especially in tech you see a wide variety of women in technology but not many efforts focused on people with disabilities. Reyma shares that so many candidate and employees have hidden disabilities and there is so much fear associated with disclosing a disability. She says that upwards of 75 percent of people who are disabled and are employed choose to not disclose their disability at their place of employment. There is fear and stigma around this and it is something that Reyma and others are working to change. 

As a personal note, this is one of the reasons I’ve worked so hard to talk about employment for people with disabilities. There is so much fear and misinformation when I’ve found in my own experience that people with disabilities perform at or above their peers. In college, I worked as a special needs coach. Early on in college I wanted to be a special needs teacher.


I absolutely love the work that Reyma is doing and I appreciate her candid and open opinions. It really is a breath of fresh air. It’s so hard with all the marketing talk to cut through the noise and understand how can we as HR and workplace leaders can help our employees and candidates have a great hiring and employment experience. It’s conversations like these that give me a new perspective and enlighten us on how visual interpretation technologies can be life changing for your employees. 

The future of work series in partnership with PEAT is one of my favorites. Thank you to PEAT as well as our podcast sponsor Workology.

Connect with Reyma McDeid on LinkedIn.




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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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