In July 1990, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed, providing equal opportunity for all citizens previously hindered by physical or mental disability1. In line with the standards set forth in the ADA, employers are to create fully accessible workplace environments. In this case, accessibility refers to “reasonable accommodations” which are made by employers for disabled individuals and enable them to participate fully and fairly in hiring, training, and working environments. Reasonable accommodations include, but are not limited to, modifying workplace resources or schedules, providing accessibility technology, reconstructing jobs, and providing readers and interpreters2.
In recent years, the American workplace has seen a transition towards the use of new media and technology. More and more, individuals are utilizing multimedia platforms to seek out career opportunities and are increasingly required to use such technological skills in the workplace3. Disabled individuals can be continually challenged with accessibility limitations in a world that is increasingly leaning towards the virtual. This rings especially true in the workplace where interpersonal communication is often carried out online or over the phone. Individuals who are visually or speech impaired, for instance, may find it extremely difficult to communicate with professional colleagues.
The 2010 census reported that there are currently 56.7 million people living and working in the US with some type of disability4. AllyO recognizes the need to provide equal opportunity for this substantial population.
At AllyO, it is our mission to make recruiting efficient and inclusive and to promote employee satisfaction for individuals of all abilities. We also recognize the importance of customer compliance with the ADA. To that end, AllyO utilizes the WCAG 2.1 standard in its web chatbot which enables communication between the bot and those in need of specialized assistance in navigating our programs. All employers, employees, and candidates are able to audibly interact with AllyO using screen reader software such as JAWS and VoiceOver. In addition, AllyO provides a voice-to-text feature in its web chatbot widget. This allows individuals to navigate verbally, through speech instead of textually, via typing. These options are now a standard for every AllyO bot serving on the web.
An American convenience store and gas station chain dedicated to serving consumers with effective customer service decided to utilize AllyO to meet their recruiting goals. Their goal was to hire as many qualified candidates as fast as possible and to increase recruiter efficiency. After using AllyO’s text-to-apply feature effectively for two years, this national convenience store chain sought out to capitalize on another AllyO channel, the web chatbot. By utilizing AllyO’s accessibility tools, this client prioritized seeking out qualified candidates of all abilities.
The national chain implemented the AllyO chatbot on their career site main page and each career subpage. This allowed candidates to easily navigate through the site moving through qualification questions and eventually through scheduling an interview. The new channel resulted in a 400% increase in AllyO candidate volume month over month. The overall increase in volume also led to a 195% increase in scheduled interviews!
Consider Sally- a 35-year old visually impaired woman residing in Minneapolis. She has several years of local experience as a customer success representative. However, after a recent round of layoffs, she is having a hard time getting interest from employers. Continuing to submit applications on job boards or company websites, she finds herself limited in the number of opportunities she is able to pursue due to inaccessibility. The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is more than twice the rate of those with no disability5. Furthermore, accessibility technology is not always prioritized within companies. As a result, many websites and resources are unusable for disabled people. This can effectively limit them in career opportunities.
Being that there is such a large population of disabled, yet qualified, candidates residing in the United States, companies need to make accessibility a priority, especially if they wish to remain on the forefront of success. AllyO is a company that prioritizes such and has proved so by making resources accessible using the WCAG 2.1 W3C standard. To accomplish this goal, AllyO provides a conversation widget that is compatible with top of the line accessibility tools such as JAWS on Windows and Voiceover on Apple Mac. These tools provide Sally, and all disabled people, the required voiceover to listen to both the messages from the AllyO bot and those being typed or voiced by them. By using this technology, Sally, and hundreds of candidates like her, can schedule an onsite interview within minutes.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.
3. Knorr, A. 2009 (August 2). “Companies Want Applicants with Social-Media Skills.” Atlanta-Journal Constitution: D1, D4.
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