[Jobs] Job Announcement - Work Experience Coordinator /TransitionTeacher

Dick Davis ddavis at blindinc.org
Wed Jul 27 17:15:14 CDT 2011

I see a lot of job postings that require a valid state driver's license.  It
seems to be a habitual human resources thing.  Of course, it completely
discriminates against blind people, and therefore violates a whole
bucketload of civil rights laws. 
I give blind jobseekers the following advice:
1. If you don't see driving (not traveling from place to place but actually
operating a motor vehicle) in the job description, then it isn't an
essential function of the job, so ignore the requirement and apply anyway.
2. Assume that they really mean a state ID, and if they ask if you have a
valid driver's license, answer yes.  Don't write an explanation; discuss it
instead in the job interview.  
3. I routinely send messages to employers telling them that the requirement
is illegal, because it discriminates against blind people as a class.  Each
of you is welcome to do so too.  Here is a letter I wrote on behalf of the
NFB Employment Committee.  You are welcome to use the information in it or
just send it to employers.
I imagine Barbara will see all of this and pass it on to her employer.
Dick Davis
National Federation of the Blind 

Employment Committee

100 E. 22nd St.

Minneapolis, MN 55404-2514


April 15, 2011


Dear Employer:


Over the past couple of years, I've seen a large number of job postings that
require a valid state driver's license. These job postings don't require the
kind of commercial driver's license needed by people who drive
professionally.  They require the kind of garden variety driver's license
that mom, dad, and the kids need to drive their car, minivan, or SUV.  


The odd thing about the job postings I've seen that contain this requirement
is that most of them don't even list driving as an essential job function. I
know lots of blind jobseekers who were able to perform all the essential
functions of a job, but decided not to apply when they saw the valid
driver's license requirement.  


I'm sure there are good reasons why the valid driver's license requirement
finds its way into job descriptions (and it does into lots of them). A valid
driver's license permits employees to drive company vehicles or use their
own for work functions. It also serves as a handy means of identification.  


But in my opinion, the requirement is discriminatory, because it excludes
blind people as a class.  That's because no blind person can qualify for a
state driver's license. If you know anything about civil rights law, a
requirement that excludes an entire class of people from applying is a
definite no-no.  That's especially the case when driving isn't listed as an
essential function of the job.   


The only time when such a requirement isn't discriminatory is when operating
a motor vehicle is an essential function of the job, and no reasonable
accommodation is available.  An example of this would be a job where a
significant portion of the employee's workday is spent picking up people in
the morning, driving them to a social service program, and taking them back
home in the afternoon.  


It would be unreasonable for a blind person to apply for that kind of job.
But if, on the other hand, the job just required some travel, it would be
reasonable for the individual to apply.  Blind people use mass transit,
taxis, shuttle vans, intercity buses, trains, planes, and paid drivers to
get from place to place.  They do so efficiently, and they've been doing it
for decades.  


In that case, requiring that the blind person have a valid driver's license
and drive a company car would be discriminatory, since reasonable
accommodations like the ones listed above are in fact available.  The
argument "because we've always done it that way" isn't going to hold up in
court if the blind person files a civil rights complaint.  I know, because
I've served as an expert witness in a number of discrimination cases.  


So, what is an employer to do?  I think the best approach is to leave the
valid driver's license requirement out of the job description entirely
unless driving (not just getting from place to place, but actually operating
a motor vehicle) is an essential function of the job, and no reasonable
accommodation is available.  


If the job requires travel, say so, and say how much travel is required, but
don't specify the method that must be used. Let the blind job applicant
figure that out, and if the explanation seems reasonable to you, hire them.
If you want an employee to have identification, say that you want a "valid
state driver's license or state ID".  Blind people can get state ID's, the
same amount of proof is required, and they look virtually the same.  


In a broader sense, make sure all your job descriptions state the essential
functions in detail, but avoid specifying the exact methods to be used. And
especially avoid physical requirements like "good vision" unless you are
absolutely certain that there is no way a person can perform the tasks using
nonvisual methods.  (The only way you can be absolutely certain is if you
know a lot about blindness and blind people, which isn't usually the case.)


A couple of final points - blind people are not stupid; they have no
interest in taking unreasonable risks, or failing and getting fired.  If an
individual doesn't think they can perform the required functions, they won't
apply, and if they do, they'll be prepared to describe the methods they'll
use to do them. 


It's simple, it's fair, and it beats heck out of having to respond to a
civil rights complaint.  


Best wishes,

Richard "Dick" Davis

Committee Chair



From: jobs-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:jobs-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of
Edwin Rodriguez
Sent: Wednesday, July 27, 2011 8:17 AM
To: 'Jobs for the Blind'
Subject: Re: [Jobs] Job Announcement - Work Experience Coordinator

This lady, Betty Davis doesn't seem to get it yet! The department of motor
vihicles won't give us a drivers license if we are blind.  


From: jobs-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:jobs-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of
Barbara Davis
Sent: July 22, 2011 8:47 AM
To: AADB - chad.metcalf; ACB; ADRS; ADRS, Ray Dennis; AFB -American
Foundation for the Blind - Alina Vayntrub; American Council of the Blind;
Brooks, Lee Ann; CA School for the Deaf, Laura Peterson; Clemons, Debbie;
COSB - Robert Beadles, Jr.; Day, Lorinda; DeafEd; Deb LeHeup; Earlene
Hughes; Gallaudet; Garcia, Elaine; Glisson, Mimi; Gutman, Virginia; Harrell,
Susan; Louisiana School for the Deaf; Louisiana School for the Deaf;
Maryland School for the Deaf - Anny Currin; McCarthy, Angie; New Mexico
School for the Deaf; NFB; NFB; NIB; Pardi, Charles; Pelham, Stella; Ray
Castellall - Troop for Teachers; Scranton State School fro Deaf; Simmons,
Ashley; Smith College/Clarke School for Deaf; Steward, Hayden; Street, Andy;
Tennessee School for Deaf; Washington State School for the Blind,Jessica
Syndnor; Washington State School for the Deaf,April Lynch; West Tennessee
School for Deaf; Williams, Bill; Wilson, Jeff; Wilson, Linda; Wisconsin
School for Deaf; Yancey, Cindy - Rehab Gadsden; Yates, Alan; Brooks, Lee
Ann; Butler, Steve; Culver, Debbie; Day, Lorinda; Dodd, Dena; Donovan, Kim;
Driggers, William; GA Rehab Services - Valdosta; Lackey, Cayla; Richards,
Greg; Roberts, Roy; Waldrop, Helen; Walker.Melvin; Wright, Sue ; Yates,
Alan; Abel, Karrie; ACB - Ken Osbourn, State President; Cheryl Burtton or HR
Tompkins-Seneca Tioga BOCES; Debbie Culver; NIB - Stephanie Hoyt; UAB - Mary
Jean Sanspree
Subject: [Jobs] Job Announcement - Work Experience Coordinator /

Attached is the job announcement for the above position.  Please post on
your web site or bulletin boards.


Thank you,


Barbara Davis

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