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Recruiting Students with Disabilities

RIT’s Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education recognizes that job seekers with disabilities comprise a key focus area for our employers’ diversity recruitment strategies.  As a result, we are dedicated to working closely with you to effectively connect with this population and meet your diversity recruiting objectives, and to providing services and resources to assist job seekers with disabilities achieve success throughout the job search process.



Hiring on the Spectrum (Video)

Employer Guide

Download the Guide to Supervising Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (PDF)

Updates from RIT on recruiting employees with disabilities and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act

In 2013, the U. S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced changes to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 503 applies to all companies with federal contracts, and requests that employees with disabilities* make up 7% of the company’s workforce. Additionally, employers are asked to invite current employees and candidates to disclose the presence of a disability through a standardized one-page Self-ID

*Definition of disability: OFCCP encourages a broad definition of disability: “a physical or mental impairment or medical condition that substantially limits a major life activity or if you have a history or record of such an impairment or medical condition.” This includes but is not limited to blindness, deafness, cancer, diabetes, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and asthma.

RIT has a large population of students with disabilities, including approximately 1,300 Deaf or hard-of-hearing (HOH) students and an additional 700 students with various other disabilities. Key campus offices that support our students’ career development include Career Services and Cooperative Education, NTID Center on Employment, Spectrum Support Program, and the Disability Services Office.

RIT can help you recruit, hire, and train candidates with disabilities! 

  • Visit our website to learn more about recruiting students with disabilities at RIT and topics such as disability etiquette in the workplace and advice on reasonable accommodations. Please contact for support in recruiting individuals with disabilities for your open positions!
  • Recruit from a group of 120 pre-screened RIT/NTID candidates with disabilities from the Workforce Recruitment Program. Employers in the federal government can request a password to gain access to the WRP database. If you are an employer in the private sector, you can take advantage of the WRP through Resource for Private Sector Employers called
  • Work with NTID Center on Employment for assistance with recruiting Deaf/Hard-of-hearing students and alumni, suggestions on communication strategies and accommodations when working with a Deaf/HOH colleague, and to request training on how to work effectively alongside Deaf/HOH colleagues.  
  • Get involved in employment programs that target job seekers with disabilities that we promote to our students including US Business Leadership Network or  American Association for the Advancement of Science EntryPoint.
  • Contact community agencies that provide information and support for outreach to individuals with disabilities and veterans. A searchable directory is available here.

Recruitment Strategies

Contact our office for assistance with shaping your recruitment efforts and planning effective recruiting events for job seekers with disabilities.  We can provide data on enrollment numbers to assist you with your planning, and have a specialized email listserv available to enable you to get your message out easily to this targeted audience.

Why Hiring People With Disabilities Is Good For Your Organization

  • Increased retention: Employees with disabilities have a lower turn-over rate than non-disabled employees (Employees with disabilities have a job-retention rate of 85% after one year of employment). Replacing employees is expensive in tangible costs (advertising, interviewing, and training) but also in the loss of organizational knowledge and expertise.
  • Qualified employees: Employees with disabilities perform equally to employees without disabilities. A study of 250 supervisors indicates satisfaction with their employees with disabilities’ attendance and performance.
  • Tax benefits may be available and vary by state. For more information, view NYS Tax incentive fact sheet, Department of Labor Tax incentives for providing disability accessibility, and a list of Work Opportunity Tax Credit application instructions by state. Job Accommodation Network offers an overview of available incetives as well.
  • Value: People with disabilities comprise a lucrative, yet often overlooked, market segment. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, they and their network contribute $2.4 trillion dollars in discretionary spending in the United States. Employees with disabilities can provide businesses with valuable insights into this under tapped market.

    These benefits and more are also available to companies that hire people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) 

  • Characteristics: Commonly associated with employees with ASD include focus, reliability, honesty, and a preference for work over office politics. They may have a tolerance for routine which is valuable in all kinds of jobs.
  • Skills: Employees with ASD are often praised for their attention to detail, accuracy, strong logic, and analytical skills. They may have a memory for facts that is astounding.
  • Diversity: Integrating people with ASD into the workplace offers the reward of diversifying the workplace. Other possible benefits include: multiple points of view that promote creative problem solving and positive customer reactions
  • Enhancing co-worker and supervisor skills: Co-workers and supervisors can learn to communicate clearly and understand social dynamics.
  • Efficiency: Supports that help employees with ASD in their adjustment to the workplace (such as providing written instructions, establishing clear long-term and short-term goals for employee, and allowing for various methods of communication) provides clarity for all employees, enhancing productivity and efficiency.

RIT Campus Resources

The Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services is available to assist you in your efforts to ensure an inclusive work environment, including recruiting qualified candidates, hiring, training, and maintaining employees with disabilities. 

Contact: Janine Rowe, MSEd., NCC
Assistant Director, Disability Services 
RIT Office of Co-op and Career Services
585. 475.6309

NTID Center on Employment – The National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) is one of the nine colleges of RIT. The NTID Center on Employment assists employers in the recruiting of deaf and hard-of-hearing RIT/NTID students and graduates.

Additional Resources

Disability Glossary  Suggestions for clear, direct language to use to describe disabilities and accommodations.


Job Accommodation Network (JAN):  JAN provides an online database of accommodation options that is searchable based on disability-/impairment-type and specific functional limitations, and also offers information on where specific accommodations can be purchased.  You can also contact a JAN consultant for free advice regarding job accommodations.  
Other accommodation-related resources of interest from JAN:
•    Employers' Practical Guide to Reasonable Accommodation Under the Americans with Disabilities Act: This guide from JAN provides information on accommodations that need to be offered during the application and interview process, what medical questions can be asked on applications and in interviews and after a job offer has been made.  
•    Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact: Study examines the true costs and benefits of workplace accommodations. 

Did you know?

56% of accommodations cost absolutely nothing to make; the remaining 34% typically cost $600 or less. Source: “Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact.” Job Accommodation Network. 1 Sept. 2010.    

Disability Etiquette in the Workplace

Communicating With and About People With Disabilities: Communication tips from the U.S. Department of Labor. 

Disability Etiquette in the Workplace: Fact sheet and guide from JAN.

 Employment Laws and Compliance

ADA National Network: Provides information, guidance and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), tailored to meet the needs of business, government and individuals at local, regional and national levels. 
U.S. Department of Labor – Disability Nondiscrimination Law Advisor: Provides businesses with a customized list of federal disability nondiscrimination laws that may apply based on business type, size, and location, and links to detailed information regarding requirements under these laws. 
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Overview of federal laws pertaining to employment discrimination, a list of prohibited practices, how to file a discrimination charge, and how to resolve a discrimination charge. 
JAN ADA Library: Information on the ADA and the ADA Amendments Act. 
 Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) Frequently asked questions about new Section 503 regulations for federal contractors regarding disability hiring. 

Employment Programs Targeting Job Seekers with Disabilities

In addition to recruiting directly from RIT, your organization may also want to get involved in employment programs that target job seekers with disabilities that we promote to our students including:
•    American Association of People with Disabilities Internship Program: The AAPD manages internship programs for students with all types of disabilities. 
•    Emerging Leaders: Connects employers with interns with disabilities who are exceptionally qualified and highly motivated to succeed. 
•    EntryPoint!: A program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), AAAS identifies and screens undergraduate and graduate students with disabilities who are pursuing degrees in science, engineering, mathematics, computer science, and some fields of business, and places them in paid summer internships. 
•    Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP): The WRP is a recruitment and referral program that connects federal and private sector employers nationwide with highly motivated postsecondary students and recent graduates with disabilities who are eager to prove their abilities in the workplace through summer or permanent jobs. 

 Making the Business Case

Why should a company hire a person with a disability?  
Did you know?
People with disabilities comprise a lucrative, yet often overlooked, market segment.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, they and their network contribute $2.4 trillion dollars in discretionary spending in the United States. Employees with disabilities can provide businesses with valuable insights into this under tapped market.  Source: Gurchiek, Kathy. “Hiring Persons with Disabilities Touted as Good for Bottom Line.” Society for Human Resource Management. 

Professional Associations

Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities: COSD is a national professional association comprised of more than 600 colleges and universities and over 500 major national employers.  COSD's mission is to improve the employment rate of college students and recent graduates with disabilities on a national basis. COSD closely works with employers to identify innovative methods of recruiting and hiring college graduates with disabilities.

National Business & Disability Council: The NBDC is the leading resource for employers seeking to integrate people with disabilities into the workplace and companies seeking to reach them in the consumer marketplace.  NBDC members are predominantly corporations and Federal government employers committed to diversity.

US Business Leadership Network: The USBLN® is the national disability organization that serves as the collective voice of over 60 Business Leadership Network affiliates across North America, representing over 5,000 employers. The USBLN® helps build workplaces, marketplaces, and supply chains where people with disabilities are respected for their talents, while supporting the development and expansion of its BLN affiliates.

Recruiting, Hiring, and Retaining  Tips and resources related to employing people with disabilities, workplace accommodations, laws and regulations, and research findings. 

Focus on Ability: Interviewing Applicants with Disabilities: Interviewing tips from the U.S. Department of Labor.

National Organization on Disability: The NOD provides up-to-date findings on the employment status of people with disabilities, on issues facing people with disabilities, on creating an inclusive work environment, and other topics.

NTID Center on Employment: Tips on how to interview and work with a person who is deaf or hard-of- hearing from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID).            

Society for Human Resource Management – Disability Employment Resource Page: Provides resources, articles and links to help you source, recruit, retain and develop people with disabilities, a pool of talent too often overlooked by employers.

Working With People with Autism: Information on recruiting, interviewing, and working with a person with an autism spectrum disorder. 

Fast Facts

About Disabilities

  • Approximately 54 million people in the United States have disabilities (almost 1/4 of the population).
  • There are about 2.3 million adults with disabilities who have a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • An additional 2.2 million are currently in college. Many more have vocational training and relevant work experience.

Autism Spectrum Disorders (including “Asperger’s Syndrome)

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are characterized by communication and social deficits and strong interest patterns. The word “Spectrum” means that symptoms and abilities vary widely.
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders currently affect 1 in 150 people. With recent advances in understanding and supporting individuals with ASD, more are attending college than ever before.
  • Individuals with ASD are interested in a variety of fields. They often work successfully in computing, digitization, scientific research, software testing, and game and media design and development 


Job Offer Guidelines and Principles for Ethical Professional Practice

Please Note: we adhere to National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Job Offer Guidelines and Principles for Ethical Professional Practice