Tuesday, November 12, 2013

PROPOSED FORM FOR SELF-IDENTIFICATION OF INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES RAISES A NUMBER OF CONCERNS

by Rachel Gabbard, M.A., HR Analyst, DCI Consulting Group

The OFCCP has recently submitted the long-awaited proposed self-identification form for individuals with disabilities (IWD). The proposed form has been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for review and approval. You can view the form here (http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAICList?ref_nbr=201307-1250-001).

The proposed self-ID form raises a number of issues. The first and potentially most troubling of these issues involves the response options for self-identification. The instructions, which ask applicants and employees to “please indicate below whether you have a disability,” give the option of selecting either “Yes, I have a disability (or have previously had a disability” or “No, I don’t wish to identify as having a disability.” In combination, the response options don’t seem to cover the complete range of possibilities. What about applicants and employees who wish to identify as not having a disability? Not having a disability and not wishing to identify as having a disability are surely not one and the same.

The second issue concerns the readability of the proposed form. According to Microsoft Word’s readability statistics, the self-ID form is not an easy read. According to the Flesch Reading Ease Formula, the proposed form receives a score of 11.3, which places it in the “Very Confusing” category. Scores between 0 and 30 (with a maximum score of 100) indicate that the text is best understood by individuals who are university graduates. Additionally, the form receives a score of 16.5 from the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Readability Formula. This translates to a 16.5-year education requirement (graduate level) for reader comprehension, which further translates to a huge problem.

An additional concern involves the first response option for self-identification, which combines applicants and employees who identify as having a disability with those who identify as having previously had a disability. Section 503 (in accordance with the ADA) does include individuals who have “a record of” disability. However, it seems odd to lump individuals with a current disability and individuals with a past disability together into a single category.

The final major concern involves the omission of a place for identifying information on the proposed form. The regulations convey that a 7% utilization goal for IWD will be set for each job group (with the exception of contractors with a total workforce of 100 or fewer employees). In the absence of identifying information, organizations will be unable to assess whether or not they have met the utilization goal for each job group.

A final minor concern is the absence of “working” from the list of major life activities in the section describing the definition of “disability.” One would think that would be an obvious inclusion.

Let’s hope these issues are addressed during review and resolved before the final version of the self-ID form is published.

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