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Employers must ensure AI tools are accessible for workers with visual disabilities

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EEOC ensures tech access for disabilities

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has recently issued updated guidance concerning the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its application to individuals with visual disabilities. The aim is to emphasize the importance of ensuring that new technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) are accessible to all candidates and employees.

According to the news release, the updated guidance requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations for decision-making tools utilizing algorithms or AI, particularly in the hiring process. This may involve alternative testing formats that better assess a candidate’s ability to perform the job. Employers are also encouraged to disclose information about how the technology evaluates applicants or employees and provide instructions on how to request an accommodation.

EEOC Chair Charlotte Burrows asserted that providing reasonable accommodations is an employer’s responsibility, particularly for workers with vision impairments. The goal is to equip these individuals with the necessary resources to succeed in the workplace.

Under the ADA, employers are prohibited from discriminating against job applicants and employees with disabilities, whether visible or invisible, such as vision or hearing impairments, chronic fatigue, diabetes, or depression. The law also mandates that reasonable accommodations be provided to facilitate equal opportunities for everyone.

The EEOC has been actively adapting existing regulations to address the challenges presented by new and evolving workplace technologies. In January, they updated their guidance on workers with hearing disabilities, specifically addressing videoconferencing software and the potential need for voice-to-text translation services as an accommodation.

Furthermore, federal agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, U.S. Department of Justice, and Federal Trade Commission collaborated to clarify how existing laws apply to emerging technologies like AI. Additionally, in May, the EEOC provided guidance on auditing AI systems to avoid discrimination.

In summary, the EEOC’s recent updates aim to promote inclusivity and accessibility in the workplace by ensuring that new technologies and AI do not hinder the opportunities and success of candidates and employees with disabilities.