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Accessibility in career development

Asper Career Development team consults with inclusivity experts to empower students and support employers

May 27, 2024 — 

As the University of Manitoba reaffirms its commitment and responsibility to meet the standards of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA), the Asper School of Business Career Development Centre (CDC) team continues to fulfill its commitment to inclusive and accessible career development education.

Charlotte Vis van Heemst, Career Consultant at the Asper Career Development Centre

Charlotte Vis van Heemst, Career Consultant at the Asper CDC, regularly meets with industry experts to learn more about meaningfully implementing principles of equity, diversity and inclusion in all elements of career development.

“I’m passionate about bridging the gap between industry and students,” Vis van Heemst explains. “This research aims to assist employers on creating accessible workplaces and empower students to advocate for their needs. Ultimately, I hope to foster a more inclusive hiring landscape where talent thrives.

Most recently, she interviewed Nicole MacDonald, National Member Engagement Coordinator at Canadian Association for Supported Employment (CASE), to learn more about accessibility in job postings and hiring norms. MacDonald shares best practices for accessible job postings, highlighting content (inclusive language, focus on skills and qualifications) and form (using an accessible font).

“Nicole’s perspective highlights the importance of open communication and fostering a disability-positive culture. This aligns perfectly with the CDC’s values of inclusivity. Now, I’m even more motivated to explore ways to strengthen our own accessibility practices and empower students with disabilities,” says Vis van Heemst.

The initiative is part of the Asper CDC’s larger commitment to inclusivity and accessibility.

“The CDC’s mandate is to empower students to pursue their desired careers,” explains Kelly Mahoney, Director, CDC. “Inclusivity and accessibility are foundational to the Asper Career Development Centre’s mission, ensuring equitable opportunities for all students. Fostering inclusive environments cultivates innovation, prepares students for the global workplace and promotes social responsibility.

“At the CDC, inclusivity and accessibility are not just values; they are integral to our commitment to creating a supportive and empowering environment where every student can thrive.”

Vis van Heemst hopes that these interviews can contribute to this mandate, fostering continuous learning for career development professionals, employers and students, and allowing the Asper CDC team to act as knowledge partners for the Manitoba business community and to empower students through career education informed by accessibility.

She shares the following best practices for crafting job postings, informed by MacDonald’s expertise:

Nicole MacDonald, National Member Engagement Coordinator at CASE

Focus on skills and qualifications: Use language that focuses on the skills and qualifications required for the job rather than assumptions about abilities. For example, instead of specifying physical requirements like “must be able to lift 50 pounds,” focus on the outcome, such as “ability to perform tasks that require physical strength.”

Use inclusive language: Use language that is respectful and inclusive of all individuals, regardless of their abilities. Avoid terms that may be stigmatizing or discriminatory. For example, instead of using terms like “disabled” or “handicapped,” use person-first language like “person experiencing disability.”

Provide information on accessibility: Include information in the job posting about the accessibility of the workplace and any accommodations that are available. This can help students with disabilities determine if the job is a good fit for them and help them feel more comfortable applying

Offer alternative application methods: Provide alternative methods for students to apply for the job, such as email or phone, to accommodate different needs. Ensure that these alternative methods are clearly outlined in the job posting.

Use an accessible font: Ensure that the font used in the job posting is easy to read and accessible for individuals with vision loss. Choose a font style and size that is clear and legible; avoid using decorative or serif fonts or small text sizes that may be difficult to read.

Be open to accommodations: Clearly communicate in the job posting that the employer is open to providing accommodations for candidates with disabilities. This can help alleviate concerns that students may have about requesting accommodations during the application process.

The Asper Co-op Program is your connection to top talent to support your business needs, year round. Connect with the Asper Career Development Centre to learn more about how participating in the co-op program can help to bring fresh ideas into your workplace, increase your organization’s brand recognition among current students and grads, and more.

For further resources on accessibility, visit the Canadian Association for Supported Employment.

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