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Disability Empowerment

The Game-Changing Potential of Tech-Enabled Disability Inclusion Programs

Nish Parikh

CEO, Rangam

According to the World Health Organization, 15 percent of the global population experiences some form of visible or invisible disability. In the United States, there are about 61 million people with disabilities, leaving 6 out of 10 working-age adults with disabilities unemployed

These staggering numbers indicate that adults with disabilities not only need improved access to employment and career development opportunities, but also that companies are missing out on a huge pool of untapped talent that can bring new perspectives and innovation to the workplace.

Tech-enabled tools

Using the technology that’s available at our fingertips is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways to gain a decisive edge in today’s talent war. While many organizations have started leveraging technology to support their disability inclusion programs, it is mostly being done in small groups, with a small number of jobs with limited outcomes. 

Referrals, personal contacts, and social networking are driving many of these localized initiatives. Technology, specifically HR-tech, helps turn such initiatives into more efficient, collaborative, and globally distributed yet centrally managed recruiting programs in which all stakeholders (e.g., employee resource groups, diversity and inclusion program managers, hiring managers, HR, procurement) can play an active role in training and awareness-building through interviewing, hiring, and onboarding. 

By using technology, disability inclusion champions can overcome their challenges of working in silos, and they can collaborate more to foster a connected community, which, in turn, helps create a natural support system for people with disabilities.

For hire

Any disability hiring approach has many moving parts that must operate in sync with each other for the overall program to succeed. Tech-enabled programs are great at executing tasks that are important but repetitive. For example, screening and shortlisting resumes for a given job are elementary steps that can be automated with the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms. 

In addition, significant advancements in natural language processing (NLP) and speech recognition have led to the creation of intuitive and intelligent chatbots, AKA “conversation partners.” Not only do these give customers a better experience, they also help internal stakeholders communicate with each other with ease, convenience, and flexibility. 

By leveraging evidence-based data points provided by NLP as a “virtual advisor,” employers can also identify disability- or autism-friendly jobs from job descriptions.

A revolution

Data technology is leading the storage and analytics revolution. Cloud technologies, for example, are empowering businesses to build disability-friendly job “banks” and untapped talent pipelines for the future. 

Today’s fast-paced and metrics-driven corporations establish and measure goals on an ongoing basis. Data technology is helping them not only achieve their objective but also share successes and communicate follow-ups that are necessary to persuade people to invest in their mission. 

When it comes to scaling up disability hiring programs, employers are relying on various business analytics tools to make informed decisions.

A diverse workforce consisting of people with disabilities — including those on the autism spectrum — makes teams more engaged, collaborative, productive, and innovative; improves retention and brings down turnover rates; helps attract millennials who prioritize purpose over pay; and builds a strong brand identity. 

As we have just seen, technology can be the primary differentiator between a moderately successful disability hiring initiative, and a scalable and sustainable disability inclusion program that creates positive results all around.

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