5 Ways Disability Services and Career Services Can Work Together

College students with disabilities face unique challenges when it comes to finding employment. They must find a way to meet specific job qualifications, navigate whether to disclose their disability, overcoming initial biases of someone’s capabilities, along with barriers to access from transportation, work equipment, flexible work schedules, interviewing, and much more. And that’s not even mentioning getting an interview in the first place.

With roughly 20percent of U.S. college students with a disability, institutions can play a significant role in bridging the employability and pay gap by working more collaboratively between the disability/accessibility services offices and career services. Often disability/accessibility offices are focused on supporting the student with on-campus accommodations, extending testing time, ensuring they can navigate campus, but what happens after the student leaves and graduates? The post-graduation outcomes for these students have the odds stacked against them. According to recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals with a disability are more likely to be underemployed, unemployed, and underpaid.

Despite the fact that disability/accessibility offices are under tight budgets and strained staff, they must think beyond the student’s experience on their campus, and place a higher focus on their post-collegiate future. If they can tap into the resources available in the career services offices, students across a campus can be better supported. The same can be said for career services offices, which must do more outreach and collaboration in the disability space to support this growing population as outlined in this blog from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

To help guide institutions, we’ve outlined below some key ways for these offices to work collaboratively.

  1. Access to Accommodations
    Disability services offices can provide students with the accommodations they need to succeed in their academic and career pursuits. By working with career services, they can ensure that students have are comfortable preparing for an interview, understand the interview process, and feel confident understanding the questions they need to ask for accommodations in the workplace. This can include assistive technology, accessible transportation, and other accommodations that can help students with disabilities succeed in their jobs.

  2. Career Planning
    Disability services offices can be proactive in students' academic and career planning. They can help students with disabilities identify their strengths and interests, explore career options, and develop a plan to achieve their career goals. By working with career services, they can ensure that students are aware of the resources available to them and are taking advantage of them. The careers services offices in turn provide specific programming tailored towards this cohort of students by identifying employers that are friendly to students with a disability and doing specific workshops for these students. This includes working with people with a disability already in the workforce who can talk about their own lived experiences, how they’ve navigated the college to career transition, and possibly serve as mentors to students.

  3. Work-Based Learning
    These programs can provide valuable work experience to students by helping them develop transferable skills and prepare them for the workforce. Many students with a disability are often overlooked for jobs based on their initial physical disability appearance, yet these students are more than capable of working in many industries and fields; they just need career-ready skills just like their non-disabled classmates. Ensuring students have equal access to these work-based learning programs is critical. 

  4. Employer Outreach
    Career services can work with disability services offices to encourage employers to recruit students with disabilities for work opportunities. This includes collaborating together with employers for better job descriptions, understanding what accommodations are available to employers, and changing interview practices for students (like those who are neurodivergent). They can help employers understand the benefits of hiring students with disabilities, including their unique skills and perspectives. By working together, career services and disability services can help students with disabilities find meaningful employment and help employers build a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

  5. Job Accommodations
    Disability services offices can work with employers to provide accommodations for students with disabilities in the workplace. This can include assistive technology, flexible work schedules, and other accommodations that can help students with disabilities succeed in their jobs. By working with career services, they can ensure that students are aware of the accommodations available to them and are able to request them when needed.

In conclusion, partnerships between career services and disability services professionals can play a significant role in helping college students with disabilities develop greater self-awareness related to employment opportunities by promoting these opportunities. By working together, they can ensure that students with disabilities have access to the resources they need to succeed in their academic and career pursuits.

With Symplicity Accommodate, institutions can ensure that their campuses, whether in person or online, have equal access. Accommodate allows for disability services to communicate, in one system, across campus to help students with all aspects of a student’s success by identifying campus resources for students. Integrated with Symplicity CSM, institutions can provide a more comprehensive service to students with disabilities. For example, students with disabilities can use Symplicity Accommodate to request accommodations for career fairs and job interviews. The accommodation requests can then be seamlessly integrated into Symplicity CSM, allowing career center staff to provide tailored support to these students. Learn more about how these two systems can work together here.

For those interested in learning more about Accommodate or CSM and how your institution can utilize technology to support all students, schedule a conversation with us or email info@symplicity.com.


Disability Services, CSM, Experiential Learning, career readiness, Career Services, Diversity and Inclusion, Employer Engagement, Accessibility Services, diversity recruiting, Job Descriptions, Americans with Disabilities Act, Learning Disability, disability recruiting, Student Accessibility, Recruiting and Hiring

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