Recruitment today is often digital, with increasing numbers of employers posting vacancies on their websites and advertising through online job search websites. Many employers only accept applications which have been submitted online.

This has created a scenario where disabled jobseekers face not just attitudinal barriers, but digital barriers as well. A significant portion of employer sites, recruitment boards and online tools are not fully accessible to disabled people. This raises serious questions about diverse recruitment practices and discrimination.

At SUSE we want to work with employers as partners – helping them to create workforces that reflect the communities they serve. We are therefore increasingly concerned about digital barriers to recruitment and are keen to educate employers on how they can have efficient and cost effective recruitment processes that do not deter disabled applicants and applicants with long term conditions.

Web accessibility problems for disabled jobseekers include:

  • Navigation issues.
  • Timeouts.
  • Poor colour contrast.
  • Graphics without alternative text descriptions.
  • Job applications that could only be completed using a mouse.

Make online applications accessible – Employers tend to underestimate the need for accessible online job applications and may not have thought about the impact on disabled people. It is also necessary to offer alternatives, including traditional paper based applications (but remember these need to be accessible too!).

Accessibility versus usability –  Many employers think that accessibility is about compliance, not usability. But just because a technology is compliant does not necessarily mean it is intuitive and user-friendly.

Consider costs – Technical solutions for the most common accessibility issues already exist; and they are not expensive and difficult to implement.

Look at the big picture – Employers often fail to look at the big picture and consider accessibility challenges beyond the job application form itself, including processes related to job sourcing (how people find out about the vacancy), pre-employment testing and digital interviews.

Test before going online – Employers rarely tested their online job application software with actual users prior to launch. It is good practice to carry out user testing on these applications and get constructive feedback.

Follow guidelines – Knowing the technical requirements to make a website accessible can make online recruitment easier. There is a great deal of help and advice available from SUSE.

Many digital barriers could easily be remediated if website designers follow the universal standards for web accessibility (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), Instead, countless opportunities for richer talent are potentially lost when companies rely on inaccessible online recruitment tools.

WCAG is a step-by-step set of technical requirements explaining how you can make your website accessible to a varied audience of disabled peiple. Following these guidelines will make content more accessible to a wider range of disabled people, including blindness and low vision, deafness and hearing loss, limited movement, speech disabilities, photosensitivity, and combinations of these. Employers can also make accommodations for learning disabilities and cognitive limitations.

More information here:

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines


We worked with some of our members to research how inclusive digital recruitment is. Find out more about our project and read the final report. 

Following The Fair Chance Project, we have continued to work with employers from across Scotland as part of our Digital Recruitment Reviews.

During these reviews we have found that for every vacancy tested, an average of 18% of testers will face a barrier that stops the application process for them. That’s 18% of applicants that organisation did not know even tried to apply. Making simple changes to your website and recruitment process can have a hugely positive impact for disabled people.

You can find further information on this topic in the recruitment section of the Good Practice Guide for Employers