Neat Gizmo!/That Looks Scary: Employer Reactions to Assistive Technology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Accommodations are vital for protecting equal access and increasing the employment of people with disabilities. However, the evidence on whether employers are willing or resistant to provide accommodations is mixed. We explore reactions to accommodations specifically associated with Assistive Technologies (AT). While the presence of such a device should reassure hiring managers about the abilities of the candidate to do the job, they also risk raising new questions and uncertainties. Methods: Hypothetical job candidates with and without disabilities were presented to participants with hiring experience to examine perceptions of employability, risk, and trust. Several conditions included the candidate describing the use of AT (i.e., an exosuit) and requesting accommodations, with and without extra technical or enthusiastic language to explain the specific device. Results: Quantitative and qualitative results show that the request for accommodations, in general, is problematic. And while using the exosuit seems to benefit perceptions of trust, it still seems risky and does not categorically improve employability perceptions. Extra language provided by the candidate to explain the device did not improve outcomes but did (in the case of enthusiastic language) make people more open to seeing the positive aspects of the device. Conclusion: While using an AT is a positive advance for a job candidate with a disability, the perceptual risk and the salience of the disability are both increased. Future work is needed to explore the options for better reassuring hiring managers about such devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Occupational Rehabilitation
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rehabilitation
  • Occupational Therapy

Keywords

  • Accommodations
  • Assistive technologies
  • Disability
  • Employability

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