Training directors and psychology faculty use a number of methods to recruit qualified and motivated students for their academic programs. Common recruitment methods for psychology programs include printed material, campus open-house events and web pages. Individuals with disabilities, however, may not have the same access to your program’s recruitment information and events, thereby leading to missed opportunities for admitting and enrolling qualified students with disabilities.
Undertaking the following activities can help ensure that individuals with disabilities are included in your recruiting efforts:
- Disseminate information about your psychology program to disability-related advocacy/resource organizations (e.g., state vocational rehabilitation agencies, local chapters of learning or physical disability associations) and career centers at colleges and universities.
- Modify your program’s website such that online information is more accessible to students with low vision, dyslexia or other disabilities that affect reading and visual processing. For more information and resources on making websites more accessible, you may refer to the Web Accessibility Initiative.
- In promotional materials, include information about how individuals can request accommodations. Establish procedures to efficiently and effectively respond to accommodations requests.
- At open houses and recruiting events, prepare materials in alternate formats (e.g., large print, electronic, etc.)
- Hold open houses and recruiting events in a wheelchair-accessible location and consider mobility needs on campus tours and other such activities.
- Make sure to include in your program your specific interest in recruiting qualified students with disabilities. Include information about your willingness to appropriately accommodate disability needs and your value of disability as a form of diversity.
- Contact the office of disability services (particularly at target universities from which you wish to recruit) with your promotional materials. Certain universities have a reputation for drawing students with disabilities because of the physical structure and/or university culture (e.g.: Wright State University, University of California at Berkeley, University of Illinois, University of Houston, Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, and Gallaudet University).
- Make the interview process accessible. Think ahead about potential accommodations applicants may require (e.g.: sign language interpreter, wheelchair accessible transportation, etc.). Be prepared to offer this information readily.
- Recruit faculty and staff with disabilities. Students with disabilities may wish to form a mentorship with such professionals.
Discrimination against psychology applicants with disabilities can be avoided by examining your program’s application procedures:
- Review application materials to ensure that questions are compliant with current disability-related laws.
- Offer application materials in a variety of formats (e.g., online, large print).
- Include information about how to request application-related accommodations (e.g., an interview) or alternative application formats on your program’s website and in applications packets.
- Establish procedures for handling situations in which applicants voluntarily disclose disability-related information. For example, training directors should separate this information from application materials for the program, file it in a secure location and send it to the disabilities services office when appropriate.
- Train faculty and staff on application review committees about disability-related laws, program policies and ways to avoid discrimination against qualified students with disabilities.
And, once they’re in...
Training directors and psychology faculty and staff can take a number of steps to welcome incoming students with disabilities:
- Provide on-campus disability-related resources to all newly admitted students shortly after they have been accepted into the program. Encourage students to contact the disability services prior to the beginning of the semester so that their documentation can be processed and accommodations can be arranged in advance.
- For new student orientation, include information on accessibility, including accessible housing, transportation, etc. In addition to information about the disabilities services office, consider providing information about on-campus groups and organizations that may be of interest to students with specific disabilities. This information should be disseminated to all students, and not only to those who voluntarily disclose or have a visible disability.
- If your program has a student/peer mentor program for new students, train peer mentors about disability awareness, disability etiquette and communication.
- Communicate with your university’s disabilities services office to be aware of special events or orientations designed for students with disabilities. Inform all new students about these opportunities.