By Jessica Miller-Merrell

The Americans with Disabilities Act is hands down the biggest and most important piece of employment law legislation that has occurred in the history of employment law. The legislation which was first became law in 1986 continues to be of important as more than 22 million American workers have a disability according to a 2010 study by Kessler Foundation and Harris Interactive.

Twenty-two million eager to work candidates is a talent pool worth considering and yet many employers do not. Seventy-three percent of those surveyed believe their disability is keeping them from working let alone applying or even approaching a recruiting or hiring manager about an opportunity.

The applicant tracking system or ATS was born out of the need for compliance to US employment laws and retention programs that have changed little since they were first developed in the late 1980’s and 1990’s. It was a simpler time when people still applied for job openings in person often at a kiosk or computer located in an office or designed application area at a company. It was a time when 50% of the job seekers weren’t searching and surfing for a job via their mobile phone like we are as of June 2014.

It was a time when candidates applied in person using a paper or electronic application with the likelihood that they would meet a hiring manager or personnel representative to ask question about the job posting and even request an accommodation as part of the hiring process or interview process as outlined by the ADA.

Job seekers requesting a reasonable accommodation must provide advance notice to employers and submit their request either verbally or written. How does a sight-impaired job seeker submit a written or verbal request to a recruiter using a 1985 developed ATS? How do they connect with a recruiter and a hiring manager when the technology is simply a one-way engagement from recruiter to job seeker and not the other way around?

Aside from legislation or case law to update the request for accommodation process, the solution lies in the recruiter and the technology creating software enhancements and a workflow to make it easier for candidates to request accommodation and ask questions. The application process should be a conversation where candidates regardless of their age, sex, ethnicity, veteran status and disability are able to communicate openly with the recruiter and their potentially new employer.

Developing a new way of thinking when it comes to HR Tech will allow employers a better means of dealing with ADA requests and other governmental rules and regulations. Before creating a new HR Technology product it’s important to take a look at how this product can help streamline and keep practitioners in compliance with all laws and regulations. The outdated way of thinking will only serve as a roadblock to practitioners using your product in their workplace. We all know the practitioner is the #1 compliance king or queen and suiting their needs should be your #1 focus.

For the practitioners, how much does compliance when it comes to ADA affect your choice in the HR Technology selection process? For tech companies, how often are you thinking about compliance when it comes to building your product or service?

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s is the Chief Blogger & Founder of Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @jmillermerrell

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