Disability Works Australia

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Recruiting people with a disability

Because it is important for you to be an equal opportunity employer, and encourage people with a disability to apply for your jobs, the following information may be helpful.

Job Descriptions/Person Specifications

Check that the job description/person specification only includes inherent requirements (the basic tasks) which are clearly related to the duties of the position. Where a qualification may be generally justified, consider waiving it because a person who could not achieve it due to a disability would nevertheless be capable of performing well in the job. Otherwise a person with a disability may be discouraged from applying. It is often a good idea to focus on the expected outcomes of the job rather than how they might be achieved.


It may not be important that someone with a restricted reach can get files from a high shelf. What is important is that they can get the appropriate information somehow. They could get help from someone else, files could be stored on a lower shelf, they could use a mechanical device, or information could be stored on a computer rather than on paper.


It is a good idea to publicly welcome applications from people with disabilities. Make it clear that you can provide vacancy information in different formats such as large print, tape, disk or e-mail, and that you will receive applications in a similar fashion.

Application forms

Ensure that your application forms do not discriminate against people with disabilities. You may need to make adjustments to allow a candidate to submit an application in a different format eg. typewritten, by telephone, on tape, or by e-mail.

Standard questions in the job application should give the applicant the opportunity to state whether any special provisions or facilities are required at the interview.

It is perfectly acceptable to ask if the applicant has a disability, and whether they believe they will need the employer to make reasonable adjustments in the selection process or in the job if they are successful. Sharing this information at an early stage should be to the advantage of both the applicant and the employer.

It is important to ensure that your recruitment practices comply with the law and maximise the opportunity to attract and retain the best person for the job.


If you know in advance that a candidate will need some adjustments to attend and/or take part in a selection interview, you need to arrange this, where reasonable. Even if you do not know in advance, you should try to accommodate the needs of a person with a disability when they arrive.

The selection interview should be objective and non-biased. When interviewing people with disabilities, do not let any misconceptions about disability influence your view on whether a person can do the job.

Only ask about a disability in relation to the person's ability to do the job. It can be very useful to allow the candidate to guide you through their qualities and limitations as they know their needs better than anyone else. This will help you to find out whether the person needs an adjustment to the job and what that adjustment might be.

It is important not to make assumptions about a person's ability to perform certain tasks. People with disabilities often develop innovative solutions to everyday tasks, with or without technical aids or personal support.

Employing a person with a disability

Attitude is important

Interviewing job candidates requires skills and understanding. Staff training in disability awareness can be a good way to reduce the risk of discriminatory attitudes affecting decisions.

Contact Disability WORKS Australia for information or assistance with disability awareness training.


This is an important stage for any new recruit. Induction enables the new employee to get to know the workplace environment - the buildings, facilities, other staff, the products or services and the procedures of the organisation.

Make sure your standard induction procedures are accessible to a person with a disability. Managers, supervisors and work colleagues need to be suitably briefed so that they understand the nature of the adjustments you make, but they do not always need to know the details of the disability.

It is often a good idea to assign another member of staff to support the new employee, at least in the early days.


Training programs should take into account any particular or additional needs of people with disabilities.

You may have a responsibility to ensure that any external training provider meets the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act.


Career development and promotional opportunities enable employees to achieve their own personal goals as well as provide direct benefits to the employer by adding value to their contributions.

It is important not to make assumptions about a person's ability to participate in training, staff activities or team meetings. Always check with the person and discuss if they will need adjustments to participate fully.

Regular performance reviews are a good opportunity to discuss an employee's ability to perform new tasks associated with promotion or transfer.

One common mistake is to overlook a person with a disability for promotion to management or supervisory positions because they cannot carry out some of the tasks. But quite often the supervisor only needs to know how the task is done and not necessarily to be able to do it.

For more information on training, development and performance management, contact your local DWA office.

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