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Disability, AI & your talent pool

By Donna Bungard
Sr. Accessibility Program Manager at Indeed
Billion Strong Global Advisor

AI & Disability: A Three-Part Series

With the rapid emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) into various aspects of our society, there has been growing conversation surrounding its implications for the Disability Community. As this field continues to expand exponentially, it becomes increasingly crucial to explore its impact. In the upcoming series of articles, we aim to dive into the multifaceted relationship between AI and individuals with disabilities, covering various aspects, including:

  1. The overarching strengths and potential risks of AI for persons with disabilities.
  2. The impact of AI on the employment and hiring processes for individuals with disabilities.
  3. Forward-looking strategies: Three actionable approaches to enhance disability inclusion within the realm of AI.

Through these discussions, our objective is to provide readers with a deeper understanding of how the emergence of AI technology intersects with the professional lives of people with disabilities. By shedding light on these important considerations, we hope to foster informed dialogue and facilitate the creation of more inclusive workplaces with greater wellbeing for all.

It’s becoming increasingly rare to find an industry that isn’t exploring the potential impacts of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on people’s lives. From advancements in generative AI for content creation to medical models enhancing assistive technologies, the rapid growth in this field has captured widespread attention. Alongside this surge in interest, however, comes a growing awareness of biases embedded in AI algorithms and the disparity between aspirational ideals and practical applications.

At Indeed, we approach AI with a balanced perspective, combining ethical considerations with a sense of excitement about its potential to support our mission of helping people find jobs. As we navigate this evolving landscape, we remain committed to leveraging AI responsibly to enhance the job-seeking process for individuals worldwide.


The disability community stands as the largest underrepresented group globally, encompassing individuals from every other underrepresented group. The Disability Community is characterized by diversity in every aspect, and our intersectional identities form a rich tapestry of perspectives that not only enhance problem-solving but also contribute to fostering inclusive company cultures and advancing equity for members of all marginalized groups. By advocating for and supporting individuals within the disability community, we are inherently advocating for those who identify as Black, Latinx, female, LGBTQ, impoverished, rural, and more.

However, despite the numerous benefits brought about by diversity and inclusion efforts, there persists a significant employment gap for people with disabilities.

The 2023 European Human Rights Report highlighted that ‘the average disability employment gap in the 27 EU Member States was 24.4 percentage points, though this varies widely across Member States.’ Similarly, in the United States, the Department of Labor blog, as of August 2023, reported an employment gap of 23%.

This presents a significant opportunity for organizations to enhance disability inclusion and accessibility within their processes, ultimately expanding the size, skill, and diversity of their talent pool. Given that diversity has been empirically linked to innovation and effective problem-solving, we understand that leveraging AI to enhance the recruitment and hiring process for individuals with disabilities is not just a moral ‘nice to have,’ but also a strategic move towards organizational success.

Complexities of the disability employment gap

For individuals with disabilities, encountering barriers to employment is unfortunately not uncommon, often becoming a familiar experience. For those who have lived with disabilities since childhood, they have likely been exposed to societal expectations and limitations on their professional aspirations from a young age. These early expectations can significantly hinder educational opportunities and, consequently, traditional employment prospects.

In every case, individuals with disabilities are acutely aware of the barriers they face. However, what may not always be apparent to employers is the unintentional obstacles they inadvertently erect for this large and diverse community. Advocating for the adoption of more inclusive hiring practices. alone may not suffice, especially for smaller businesses grappling with the complexities of navigating inclusivity in hiring.

Just as the disability community comprises various facets, the barriers to employment are equally multifaceted. It’s important to acknowledge that assigning blame to any one party is unproductive. Rather, it’s the systemic biases ingrained within existing structures that pose challenges for people with disabilities. These biases have been so deeply entrenched that they often appear as norms rather than discriminatory practices—until teams are made aware of these barriers and the relatively simple solutions available.

Let’s look into these solutions, recognizing that addressing barriers to employment for individuals with disabilities requires a multifaceted approach and a collective commitment to fostering inclusivity.

AI and the access to services and technologies

As you explore opportunities to diversify your workforce and embrace inclusivity, leveraging AI can play a pivotal role in enhancing your hiring processes to accommodate individuals with disabilities. These advancements not only promote equity but also tap into a pool of talented individuals who bring unique perspectives and skills to your team.

Consider the impact of technologies like Apple’s Personal Voice on iPhone, Microsoft’s Copilot, and Be My Eyes’ Be My AI “virtual volunteer.” These innovations are not just about technological prowess; they signify a profound shift towards a more inclusive society.

While these tools mark significant progress, it’s essential to acknowledge that challenges remain, especially the affordability of assistive technologies. However, integrating AI into your hiring processes can be a powerful step towards addressing these challenges and fostering a more inclusive workplace.

Here are some practical ways AI can assist you in hiring individuals with disabilities:

  • Bias-Reduction Tools: Implement AI-driven tools that prioritize fairness in candidate selection, ensuring equal opportunities for all applicants, regardless of their background or abilities.
  • Pre-Interview Support: Utilize AI to provide pre-interview support, such as automated reminders and sharing anticipated questions in advance, allowing candidates to prepare more effectively.
  • Accessibility Features: Ensure that your interview platforms incorporate accessibility features like captioning to accommodate candidates with hearing impairments or other communication needs.
  • AI-Enabled Training for Interviewers: Equip your team with AI-powered learning resources to enhance their understanding of diverse communication patterns and effective interaction with candidates who use assistive technologies.

By embracing AI in your hiring processes, you not only enhance accessibility and inclusivity but also unlock the potential of a diverse talent pool.

“With 15.1 million working-age individuals in the U.S. living with disabilities, embracing disability inclusion could grant companies access to over 10.7 million individuals, expanding their talent pool significantly.” –  Accenture

Remember, it’s not just about meeting quotas or compliance; it’s about creating an environment where every individual can thrive and contribute their best.

It’s time to make a change

To ensure effective change management, it’s crucial to challenge the status quo from the outset. Take a fresh look at your processes, considering alternative perspectives and performance indicators. Are you solely focused on experience, or could valuable skills be acquired through different pathways? Do you need a “strong communicator” to be verbal or could a non-verbal candidate who writes impactfully perform the duties?

Once you’ve re-evaluated your approach, consider incorporating AI into your workflows or explore hiring tools like those offered by Indeed, which prioritize ethical AI practices to enhance the hiring process.

Above all, maintain a sense of curiosity about your candidates. Recognize the unique strengths and perspectives they bring to the table, regardless of their background or abilities. While AI can certainly aid in breaking down barriers for individuals with disabilities, it’s essential to approach hiring with a human-centric mindset. Furthermore, there’s always room for innovation. In Article 3: The Future of AI in Hiring & the Disability Community, we’ll explore forward-thinking strategies to navigate the evolving landscape ahead.

Read more about Donna Bungard, the author of this article, by clicking here.

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