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5 minute read

Recruitment for Singaporeans With Disabilities: How To Make Hiring for Inclusivity Easier

Want to ensure your company’s hiring strategy doesn’t unintentionally create barriers for those with disabilities? Here’s how.

Tan Eng Tat, the director of employment and employability at SG Enable (the focal agency for disability and inclusion in Singapore), shared that hiring people with disabilities has real business benefits.

“Inclusive hiring can increase productivity and higher staff retention rates.”

“Besides having a broader talent pool to hire from, inclusive hiring brings fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to the workplace and enhances the corporate culture in which employees develop empathy and have a deeper appreciation of how everyone can contribute to the organisation’s success,” he added.

As it stands, it is estimated that more than 110,000 Singaporeans have some form of disability, approximately 3% of the citizens living there. Some 2.1% of the student population and 3.4% of the 18-49 age range are people with disabilities, with the numbers rising to 13.3% for those 50 years and older. This makes People with Disabilities (PWDs) a significant and valuable candidate pool.

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It’s also important to understand that there could be unintentional obstacles in conventional recruitment practices that will hinder their ability to join your company. Here are some examples to take note of below:

Inaccessibility of job advertisements and postings

Screen reader compatibility

Often, job advertisements are not formatted for compatibility with screen readers, essential tools for visually impaired applicants. For instance, a posting with complex graphics or without proper alt-text descriptions can be unreadable by screen readers.

Complex language

The use of complex, industry-specific jargon can be particularly challenging for individuals with certain cognitive disabilities, who might benefit from clear and straightforward language.

Physical accessibility challenges

Interview locations

Physical access to interview locations is a significant barrier for candidates with mobility impairments. An example could be an interview held in a building without wheelchair access or adequate disability-friendly facilities.


The lack of accessible transportation options to and from interview locations can also pose challenges for those with physical disabilities.

Conventional interview techniques and their limitations

Neurodiversity consideration

Standard interview processes often do not consider the unique ways neurodivergent individuals (e.g., those with autism or ADHD) may process information and communicate.

For example, an individual with autism might find fast-paced, back-and-forth conversational styles in interviews challenging.

Communication differences

Individuals with speech impairments or hearing disabilities might find traditional face-to-face interviews inadequate. Without the provision of alternatives like written interviews or sign language interpreters, their abilities may not be accurately assessed.

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Lack of flexibility in application processes

Rigid application formats

Standardised application processes often lack the flexibility needed by some PWDs. For instance, an online application form that times out quickly can be a barrier for someone with a cognitive or physical impairment that slows down their response time.

Understanding these barriers is the first step in moving towards a more inclusive and accessible recruitment process. By recognising and addressing these issues, employers can begin to create a more equitable hiring environment for PWDs.

How to make your hiring process more accessible

To avoid placing such roadblocks to PWDs joining your organization, here are seven tips to make your hiring processes more accessible and inclusive below:

1. Rethinking job descriptions and advertisements

Use clear and inclusive language to reduce bias: For instance, instead of using technical jargon, use straightforward language and explicitly state, “We welcome applicants with diverse abilities.”

Consider essential functions: Clearly list job requirements but distinguish between ‘must-have’ and ‘nice-to-have’ skills. For example, if a job in tech lists “excellent communication skills” as essential, clarify if this means verbal communication or can include written communication for those with speech impairments.

2. Leveraging accessible technology

Website and application accessibility: Ensure your career website is navigable for someone using a screen reader. Use alt-text for images and provide transcripts for video content.

Utilise Assistive Technologies: Implement screen readers like JAWS, speech recognition software like Dragon NaturallySpeaking, and captioning services for video interviews.

3. Flexible application and interview processes

Alternative application methods: For example, allow jobseekers to apply through a simple phone call or a video submission if they have difficulty with written forms.

Customisable interview formats: Provide options like conducting interviews over video calls with sign language interpreters for hearing-impaired candidates or extending the duration of interviews for those needing more processing time.

4. Training and awareness for hiring teams

Disability awareness training: Conduct workshops that simulate disabilities, like wearing a blindfold, to understand visual impairments, helping the team empathise and adjust their approach.

Unbiased interview techniques: Use structured interviews where all candidates are asked the same questions, minimising unconscious bias and focusing solely on the candidate’s qualifications.

5. Building a supportive infrastructure

Workplace accommodations: For example, provide adjustable desks for wheelchair users or special software for those with dyslexia.

Fostering an inclusive culture: Implement mentorship programs where employees with disabilities mentor new hires, promoting understanding and inclusivity.

6. Partnering with organisations and advocacy groups

Collaborate with groups like SG Enable, which can offer guidance on best practices and information on available government initiatives.

7. Feedback and continuous improvement

After a recruitment cycle, conduct surveys specifically designed for candidates with disabilities to understand their experience and areas of improvement.

By implementing these detailed strategies, employers can create a more inclusive hiring process that complies with legal requirements and embraces the strengths and skills of individuals with disabilities, enriching your workforce.

This article is contributed by Michael Page.

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