Honest HR

Kelly Hermann on Creating Accessible, Inclusive Workplaces for Employees with Disabilities

Episode Summary

In this episode of Honest HR, host Wendy Fong speaks with Kelly Hermann, Vice President of Accessibility, Equity & Inclusion at the University of Phoenix, to discuss findings from the university’s report on Workplace Accessibility - HR Professionals Accommodations for Employees’ Disability’s Research Report (2023), action steps for HR professionals and people managers focused on creating more accessible and inclusive workplaces for employees, and the future of disability and accessibility inclusion.

Episode Notes

Known for their focus on providing quality educational experiences to adult learners, the University of Phoenix wanted to learn more and provide resources to another core group of enrolled students: Individuals with disabilities. 

In this episode of Honest HR, host Wendy Fong speaks with Kelly Hermann, Vice President of Accessibility, Equity & Inclusion at the University of Phoenix, to discuss:  

Complete the SHRM Employing Abilities At Work Certificate

Earn 0.5 SHRM PDC for listening to this podcast; all details provided in-episode.

Episode transcript

Episode Transcription

Monique Akanbi: Welcome to Honest HR, the podcast for HR professionals, people managers, and team leads, intent on growing our companies for the better.

Amber Clayton: We bring you honest, forward-thinking conversations and relatable stories from the workplace that challenge the way it's always been done because after all, you have to push back to move forward.

Wendy Fong: Honest HR is a podcast from SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management. And by listening, you're helping create better workplaces and a better world. I'm Wendy Fong.

Amber Clayton: I'm Amber Clayton.

Monique Akanbi: And I'm Monique Akanbi. Now, let's get honest.

Wendy Fong: Now, let's get let honest.

Amber Clayton: Now, let's get let honest.

Wendy Fong: Hello, human Resources community and welcome. I'm your host, Wendy Fong, manager of Event Technology Innovation at SHRM. Well, I'm excited for today's guest. We have Kelly Hermann, the vice president of Access Equity and Inclusion at the University of Phoenix. She has over 20 years of experience as a leader in accessibility and disability services in higher ed, committed to equity and inclusion for all students. This podcast is eligible for 0.5 PDCs towards your SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP recertification. If you listen to the full episode, we'll share the activity ID at the end of the podcast.

Accessibility and disability have a special place in my heart. Not only do I lead accessibility and accommodations for SHRM conferences, but my mom was also disabled. She had a rare neurological condition for 12 years called cerebellum ataxia, where she eventually lost the ability to use any of her motor functions. So as one of her caregivers, whenever we went out to the grocery store or I would take her to her doctor appointments, I experienced firsthand with my mom looking for that accessible parking. Was there enough space to make sure the wheelchair was there and she could get in and out safely? Even how bathrooms were designed and space in hallways and doorways.

So in today's episode, we will define and discuss what is a disability? Why does disability and accessibility inclusion matter? And how you can create an accessible workplace experience during the employee lifecycle for those with disabilities. Kelly has some data to share from the University of Phoenix, and we'll also highlight some of the SHRM Foundation initiatives on employing abilities at work and their free certificate program, which I completed a few years ago, an awesome on demand, self-pace, self-study and you can earn PDCs for our credit.

We hope this episode will empower you as an HR professional and workplace leader to incite change, to create an accessible workplace from talent, recruitment, onboarding, retention, and just an overall positive employee experience for those with disabilities. Welcome to Honest HR, Kelly. Glad to have you on.

Kelly Hermann: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Wendy Fong: Well, this is a very important topic and has a special place in my heart as I mentioned. But for our listeners, let's define what is disability? And there are several definitions out there. There's the ADA definition and then there's also the World Health Organization definition. From the ADA website, they define a person with a disability is someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a history or record of such an impairment such as cancer that is in remission or is perceived by others as having such an impairment such as a person who has scars from a severe burn.

Now, the WHO, they have several different facts, and you can find this all on their website as well. It's free and you can look it up and you can look it up also on the SHRM Foundation website, they tout more different facts like an estimated 1.3 billion people experience significant disability. So that's 16% of the world's population or one in six of us, and some persons with disabilities die up to 20 years earlier than those without disabilities.

That was quite a stark data point when I read that. People with disabilities face many health inequities such as finding inaccessible and unaffordable transportation 15 times more difficult than those with disabilities. I know if I wasn't available to give my mom a ride, it was really hard at times to find a shuttle that could accommodate a wheelchair, having to schedule it way in advance and waiting like a two to four-hour window like, "Wow, who has time to wait for that long set of times for that shuttle to pick her up."

And then health in inequities arise from unfair conditions faced by those with disabilities such as a stigma, discrimination, poverty, and just exclusion from the education and employment and barriers faced in the healthcare system itself.

Kelly Hermann: Yeah. I mean, I think one of the things that I think is pretty interesting when you compare the two definitions, Wendy, is obviously the Americans with Disabilities Act is a civil rights piece of legislation. So it's intended to prevent discrimination where WHO then adds to it some of the intersections between what happens with the person and what happens in their environment. And really when you think about the disability experience, it's both. It's what's going on within the person, whether they are currently experiencing disability, which is that substantial limitation of a major life activity versus that interaction with the environment where someone can be using a wheelchair to get from point A to point B and can have a pretty easy non-disabling looking experience until they encounter a sidewalk that doesn't have a curb cut in it, and therefore they don't have an accessible environment that they can navigate.

So I think it's something for us to keep in mind that disability isn't necessarily a single thing, that there are many, many factors that come into it in terms of how you think about what that experience looks like. And that disability isn't just what we traditionally think of it. I appreciate that you shared that experience with your mom. I'm considered somebody who has an invisible disability because I'm a type two diabetic. And you wouldn't think about that looking at me that I am somebody who has a disability because you don't see any physical or outward signs of it yet it's still something that I grapple with and I contend with, and that sometimes does substantially limit my ability to perform one or more major life activities. And so disability is a continuum that can affect people in different ways. And we always say that once you've met one person with a disability, you've met exactly one person with a disability. It's not a homogeneous kind of experience.

Wendy Fong: Thank you for sharing your story as well.

Kelly Hermann: Sure.

Wendy Fong: In your research or University of Phoenix survey findings, I mean, what have you uncovered about why disability and accessibility inclusion? Why does it matter?

Kelly Hermann: Yeah. Gosh, that's such a loaded question. We could probably spend three podcasts talking about that one alone, but I think it's important to remember that disability is an aspect of diversity and accessibility allows us to ensure that people with disabilities feel included and welcomed. And that doesn't always happen in a lot of cases because there's still this posture that, "Well, if somebody has a disability, we'll put them over here and we'll give them what they need over here on the side, but they may not be integrated into whatever is going on, whether it's the workplace, whether it's higher education where I work or an event.

We want them to feel that they are included, that they're welcome, that we thought about their needs ahead of time. So when we talk about accessibility, it means that our colleagues with disabilities are able to perform their tasks independently, either with or without reasonable accommodations. And it means that those of us who are responsible for that in businesses, organizations, or institutions of learning have taken steps to provide those resources and tools that remove those barriers to participation so that they do feel welcome, they do feel included, and they can contribute.

Wendy Fong: And with the ADA definition, it is a protected status under the ADA. So not only are you trying to create an inclusive workplace environment, but also you have to follow the legal and compliant part of it as well. Can you share some of the recent findings on... I know University of Phoenix had a new survey of HR professionals to better understand workplace practices and approaches to employees with disabilities. We'd love to hear some of those findings.

Kelly Hermann: Sure. So we were really excited to undertake this survey because at the university we're focused on adult learners and on preparing them for the next step in their career journey. I think one of the things that I have learned in 20 years of working in higher education is that many times adult students come back to college because they experience a disability in some way, shape, or form, that no longer allows them to completely continue doing the work they were doing before.

So they come back and now they're dealing with accommodations for the first time, and now they're having to think about potentially going out and getting a new job that they haven't done before and needing to use accommodations. So we wanted to learn more about that experience for employees with disabilities from the HR lens, so we could share that with our students as they practice their own self-advocacy skills, which are so important as they request accommodations and also as they build their social capital.

So one of the primary things that we learned is that nearly three and four HR professionals wish their company would do more for employees with disabilities. What was interesting about that though is that most of them, actually 94% said that their company has programs, initiatives or activities in place to hire, train, and or retain employees with disabilities, which obviously is great news, and we want our students to know that.

We also know that mental health has been a growing concern, especially since the start of the pandemic. And most HR professionals indicate that their company provides insurance to provide support, but more direct services that students may be used to from their college are not as prevalent. So our students are used to things like workshops, partnerships for free or discounted counseling.

They may have student groups that would be like employee resource groups or ERGs and onsite counseling that not every organization is able to provide. So we want our students to be prepared for that transition so that they know if they were receiving services at their college campus that they may need to go out into their community and find a different resource as they transition to an employee with a disability.

Wendy Fong: Well, it's great to hear that several companies are offering these resources, but another part of that too is also making sure the awareness is out there and the communication. SHRM has done a great job this past year with mental health being an issue that we've been focused on. They've rolled out several benefits to our employees and has really helped out with workplace culture. But if people, managers don't share those benefits with employees or they don't know that they're aware to take advantage of, then how can you take advantage of it?

So that's the other part of it too, making sure the communication plan and strategies in place that employees can take advantage and get feedback if those are the right programs that are working for them. It's great to roll out a plan, but if it's not working for your employees, then it might not be the right company that you're partnering with.

Kelly Hermann: I would add to that too, that a lot of times we're hesitant to talk about disability. We're hesitant to include disability in the diversity conversation because there's such a stigma and the folks are so uncomfortable sometimes discussing disability because of that emphasis of, "Well, I can't do this." Right? If you think about the ADA definition and that there's an impairment that significantly limits your ability to perform a major life activity, it's set up in a negative light. Whereas when you look at some other ways of thinking about disability that includes that intersection with the environment and you realize, "Well, yeah, I could still do those tasks. I just might need an accommodation to do it. It flips that narrative a little bit." But not all of us are comfortable having that conversation.

So I think it's really important for companies and organizations as you're looking at your diversity policies to say, "Are we intentionally including disability as an aspect of diversity? What can we do with that to encourage those conversations and to help people feel more comfortable with them?"

Wendy Fong: Where do you think that stigma comes from?

Kelly Hermann: Oh gosh. That's another question, Wendy, that we could probably talk about over a couple of episodes. But I think a lot of it is rooted in the medical model of the definition of disability. So when you start with what the law tells you about when someone qualifies for the protection of the law, and it starts with impairment, that word suggests you can't do something. So therefore there's pride in the person to say, "I don't want that. I don't want to be associated with that." And then there's the hoops that folks have to go through to be able to get the services that they need and to be able to advocate for themselves. It's exhausting.

It's one of those things where I talk to so many students, thousands of students over my career where they're like, "I'm just so tired of having to ask for things. I just want things to be available for me. Why do I have to ask for special consideration again?" And that doesn't stop when you get into adulthood. And when you get into adulthood and you become an employee with a disability, there isn't an office like mine at the University of Phoenix where we have advisors who can help students navigate through that.

So I think that there's a lot of exhaustion around that and a reluctance to share. So therefore, the younger generations that are coming up and are looking for models of what to do don't have those models. And it comes back to building social capital as somebody who's disabled as well. If you don't have models of folks who have been successful and you see a lot of inspirational messages on social media where someone who had a very obvious physical disability was able to do something and they're celebrated for it, it becomes, "Well, why are you making a big deal about the fact that I actually just cut the cheese?" Everybody cuts the cheese, Right?

Wendy Fong: Mm-hmm.

Kelly Hermann: It prepares a meal or whatever the case might be. It's not a reason to come out, turn around and give me an award. And that's what some of that tends to appear to be. It just proliferates this whole idea of you can't do something so therefore, you should feel badly about that. It's a vicious cycle that I think what we're trying to do with our students is to break that cycle to really help them understand what their disability means for them, how it impacts them, what accommodations they need to have to have equal access to have that opportunity to demonstrate what they can do, and then how to advocate for those things, and how to have that conversation and be comfortable describing what disability is because it affects so many different people in so many different ways.

So it's going to take a long time, and I think there's a lot that we need to do as a society to be more comfortable around having conversations around things that make us uncomfortable, and to think about the way we use language and how we describe things. I've seen people who talk about somebody who had an injury and then needs to rely on a wheelchair, "Oh, I'd rather die than have to use a wheelchair. Well, you're saying that my life isn't worth living because I need to use a wheelchair now."

Well, is that really true? Is that really the message we want to give? And so I think those are all things that we can reflect on and start to think about.

Wendy Fong: Yeah. It does sound exhausting because even though if your school, for example, University of Phoenix has resources and your workplace, just think about daily life from when you get up in the morning to the end of your day, all the different touch points of your environment, whether your home is set up for that or the facility you live in, your apartment building, condo house. I remember we had to put up bars in my parents' house to make sure she had those and were safe and all the equipment needs getting those. Do you have the financial resources to pay for those as well? And applying for government assistance if you didn't have the financial resources.

It sounds like there are a lot of barriers that people may not be aware of, and it can be very tiring just trying to live life and have to even ask for more things.

Kelly Hermann: Right. Just as another for instance, I have a friend who has muscular dystrophy and she just recently traveled to Australia from New York, and she uses a specialized motorized wheelchair. It has been custom designed and fitted for her body because of her physical needs. Well, she was on multiple planes going from New York to Australia, and she could not stay in her wheelchair on the plane because the plane can't accommodate that.

So she has to transfer out of her wheelchair and relies then on the baggage care handling staff of the airline to take care of that chair and to put it underneath the plane. Invariably, and you see this a lot on different accounts of advocates and activists in the disability community about what a terrible job the airlines do in protecting those wheelchairs and making sure that they are not damaged. And then when they are damaged, the amount of time that it can take to get that chair fixed can stretch into months, if not almost a year in some cases.

And then that person does not have their mobility. A wheelchair is, if it's custom fitted for you, it's going to lead to injury if you are not using the right type of chair. So you can't just go grab a wheelchair from the hospital and put that person in it. It's not going to be the same. And so now she had damage done to her wheelchair. She's looking at the loss of her independence by not being able to have the chair that has been custom designed and fitted for her until the airline takes care of the repairs that are needed. And then there's always arguing about who's actually responsible for the repairs.

So even before you get to the point of making the repairs. So there are things that you and I, if we don't need to use a mobility device to get from point A to point B, we don't have to think about. But even just a simple thing as wanting to take a trip and thinking about, "Well, how do I have to get there and is it worth the risk to... Essentially my legs because my wheelchair is my legs, to be able to do that and to have that experience.

Wendy Fong: I can only imagine the expense it is to maintain that for the equipment. I don't even know if they offer medical equipment insurance like car insurance. I'm thinking that's like upkeep for car, right? I need take care of it. Oh, new workplace benefit we can offer.

Kelly Hermann: Exactly. Like I said for the survey that we did, we wanted to learn more about those experiences for our students so that they could be more prepared going into it because when you look at traditionally over the years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals with disabilities tend to be underemployed. And some of that is related to the funding that is necessary to keep them independent and in their homes, and not having to rely on institutional living in order to be able to do the basic things like eating and bathing and all of those things that you and I do every day without having to think about it, that someone with a disability likely needs assistance like your mom. Your mom needed that assistance.

There are people who cannot afford without the government subsidies to be able to have that independent living. It's usually one of the first things on the chopping block. And so you have to look at how much money can I actually earn in order to maintain my benefits? And that's one of the biggest reasons I would speculate why you see the number of significantly disabled individuals not in the workforce. And it's scary at times.

Wendy Fong: I want to go back to your point too, how you talk to students too. It sounds like it's such a wide range of disabilities, not just physical, but the invisible ones too. Talking to them individually, hearing out what they specifically need. We won't really know till we talk to the employee or the student one-on-one and seeing how we can create that environment for them because I'm sure it's different from person to person.

Kelly Hermann: It is. We talk about it a lot because when we're working with a blind student at the university, there's different factors that come into how successful that student is going to be in navigating the learning environment. We will remind our faculty that when you've met one person who is blind, you've met exactly one person who is blind because each one is going to have the individual differences. Learning how to use the assistive technology is going to be different for each person.

They're going to come to those opportunities with different experience in their background. I think the one thing that carries through for me when I talk with students is they really need to understand what their disability is. They have to know how it affects them that they can't just go in and say, "Hey, I'm blind, so take care of me." Right? Well, what does that mean for you? When did you become blind? What sort of technology do you use? How do you like to approach the way that you work? Do you need any sort of specialized software on the computer so that you can actually access things?

Are you using magnification? Because there are some blind people who are legally blind, but still have enough residual site and they want to use magnification. So you have to have large enough monitors to be able to make the magnification work, those sorts of things. You have to be able to, as the person with a disability, be comfortable that you understand how it works for you and how to advocate for your needs.

They need to practice their self-advocacy skills so that they're prepared when they do have to ask the employer for an accommodation or share details with others about their disability. My son has ADHD, and he works full-time. He's a manager at a fast food restaurant. They employ a lot of high school kids because a fast food restaurant. They're not always up to date and understand what's going on, nor always the most respectful employees in the world. But he's had to figure out how to navigate, what does he share with them about what he experiences daily as well as with the other managers that he works with in terms of what he's going to understand and what he is going to be distracting to him when they're trying to give him feedback so that they can all improve upon their shift for the day and be able to get the job done that needs to be done.

So it's really important that you start to understand those things so that you can be able to not only communicate it to an employer when you're asking for that accommodation, but that you can also be a good colleague and that you can be able to say, "Hey, when you said this, this is what I got from that, is that what you intended?" And really practicing those communication skills is so important.

Wendy Fong: That's a great idea to come up with a plan because the employer or the workplace may not have experienced anyone with this type of disability or may not know what to do. So to have that plan and present it, that's a great tip. So I did want to talk a little bit about the SHRM Foundation initiatives. So if any of you haven't checked that out yet, it's search SHRM Foundation initiative on employing abilities at work. There's a lot of really great reasons why you should create a more inclusive workplace for those with disabilities and accessible workplace.

You can build a more skilled workplace by having that diversity inclusion at your organization. And with the talent shortages, this is a untapped talent pool that is a resource to fill in those gaps in employment. Your organization could be seen as a leader in employing abilities at work. And also based on the latest data, those with disabilities have a consumer market of $220 billion in just the US alone and $1 trillion globally.

So this is not a small group to disregard or not include into your organization plan. So from your perspective, how can HR and people managers, organizations create a more accessible workplace? Thankfully, based on University of Phoenix's research, we see 94% of HR professionals are doing that. What are some of the programs that you've seen that have been successful?

Kelly Hermann: Sure. So I think this is a really incredible opportunity to be creative and to be innovative, especially in the HR space. Obviously, we've talked a lot already about the legal definition and some of the legal requirements and we have to pay attention to those are important. But I also think, and this is the reason why I love this work and why I've I've been at it for as long as I have, is that it's an opportunity to think outside of the box about how to formally and informally support the needs of individuals with disabilities. Whether that's accommodations, whether it's resources, or whether it's taking a look at what it is that we're asking folks to do and just removing barriers that we know are going to be an issue to create a more inclusive environment. So for me, I think one of the first steps that's really important is to look at your policies and procedures.

We've seen a lot of conversation and there's been a whole bunch of new posts on Twitter that I've noted over the last couple of months where companies are moving from this. I think remote work is okay posture to no, "We want to bring people back." And I think there's a happy medium there, but the ones who a lot of times get left behind in that conversation of trying to bring people back into an office environment without any flexibility are those who are disabled because there are so many different nuances to what those needs are and how you can pivot and how you can set up your home environment to be able to meet your needs when you have any disability that impacts you physically.

It's one of the things that I think we've done incredibly well at the University of Phoenix for our faculty and staff because we are remote and we do allow that to happen, and that gives us a lot of flexibility and it gives our employees the opportunity to make sure that their needs are met.

But the other thing that I think is important that I want to highlight that we learned in this survey is that is the question of is disability intentionally included in your diversity plans in any of your policies related to diversity, equity, and inclusion? A lot of times it isn't. Our survey indicated that only 19% of companies are intentionally mentioning disability. So that actually probably is an opportunity for many of us at our companies and our organizations is to look at those policies and procedures and to find those opportunities to intentionally say, "Hey, we mean disability too."

And there's lots of different ways that you can do that. I think it's scary time to be doing some of this work because of some of the misunderstanding that's out there around what diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging programs are intended to do and how we want to raise awareness so that everyone can feel like they belong. But there likely are things that you can add there that are going to increase access. And I'm of the belief that increasing access is not a bad thing.

So can you look at employee resource groups? Do you have one that's specifically for employees with disabilities? Is that something that they've been asking for? That might be a great place to start because as we talked about before, there's a lot of stigma associated with disability, and folks are a lot of times reluctant to share their stories. But if they are able to have a safe place where they can have these conversations and others can learn from them, we can start to break some of that down and we can make it better for our employees with disabilities.

And we can also, to your point earlier, a lot of times these things exist, but are we doing a great job of communicating it and do our employees know where they are? Well, they might not. So making sure that the community knows what is available for them and is an existing resource so that they can actually utilize it is really important, especially in a data-driven world where whether or not it's being utilized might mean that that might be a program that's on the chopping block when you have to make cuts. And so I think those are important things that we need to think about.

Wendy Fong: Yeah, I love that idea of including it in the overall inclusion diversity equity plan because it is part of adding diversity into the workplace as well. And it starts from just when you're hiring people, interviewing them, and then accommodating them once they're in the workplace as well. I know when someone applies for a position too, they have the ability to self ID and disclose and looking at that data as HR professional to get a gauge for those who are applying, making sure you have an echo representation of people with disabilities applying and in the workplace, and keeping an eye on that performance management, making sure that once they're at your organization, that they have all the resources they need to succeed in their role. It could be something that's a quick fix that you had no idea that they needed, and you won't know until you ask.

Kelly Hermann: And I think leveraging engagement surveys and the things that we are doing to check in with our employees on a regular basis, especially when it allows the employees to be honest and open in their feedback with anonymity is really important as well, because you may not know what they're reluctant to tell you because it's such an uncomfortable topic.

So including questions if you do an annual engagement survey about how employees feel like they belong or do they feel like they have the right resources and really looking at the lineup of questions. And can you ask a question that folks will be comfortable asking that's going to give your leadership and your managers really good information about how their team feels and where they feel comfortable and where they don't. That's also something that I think we've done really well at the university.

Our engagement survey asks questions about, "Do you feel like you can be yourself at work? Do you feel like you belong?" And our employees give us such rich information about that that we as individual managers can use to tailor the ways that we're approaching, whether there's a change coming up or how we've been able to engage with our employees and how we've been able to support them. And especially in an area like mine where my staff is listening to stories all the time that are really, really difficult to listen to.

Our students go through the ringer sometimes, and especially in this post COVID world, we had a lot of students who disclosed that they were affected by COVID or in the last three years, there's a lot of compassion fatigue that comes with it. Being on the other side and being the caring and compassionate voice is also draining and exhausting. And we need to make sure that as much as we're trying to take care of our students, that we're also taking care of our employees.

So leveraging those mechanisms that we have in place to get that information from our employees is so critically important. It should be used to think about, "Well, what else can we do to make them feel like they belong here? What else can allow them to be their authentic selves at work? How else can we support them with benefits that are going to really resonate with them and make a difference in the way that they approach their lives?" I think those are all really critical things that we can do.

Wendy Fong: Yeah. That's a great point. It also goes back to the foundation. Do you have that culture of trust and psychological safety at work where you can share about your needs and answer those surveys whether... I'm guessing they're probably anonymous, so you can feel safe to share your thoughts and feedback on what needs to be improved.

Kelly Hermann: I think that goes manager to manager, not just a company stance. At my organization. There's a lot of trust in our senior leadership team, but I've had employees who have moved from my department to other departments or from other departments to my department and individual leader level manager levels that can vary considerably. And so as HR professionals, how do you keep your finger on that pulse as well and being able to... Especially when mental health is such a concern in our society, and I think we've done a really good job of helping people to step up and say, "Hey, I need some help here."

We've done a good job of reducing some of that stigma. It still exists. How can we combat that? Exactly like you said, making sure that it's a psychologically safe space to be able to raise some of those concerns and have some of those conversations.

Wendy Fong: We have SHRM research that shows that the main reason people leave their jobs is because they're direct supervisors. So it may not necessarily be the company. So the importance of that.

Kelly Hermann: Right.

Wendy Fong: So Kelly, what do you see coming down the pipeline in the future of disability and accessibility inclusion?

Kelly Hermann: That's a great question, and there's a couple different ways that I can go with this, but I think for what I'm seeing right now is we are actually waiting on new regulations from the federal government that deals with web accessibility. And those are anticipated to be coming out here very shortly. We were anticipating that they would be out in the spring. They're a little bit delayed. And for me, it's definitely something that is critically important.

As you think about what has happened to a lot of our workplaces because of COVID and this quick move to remote work, a lot of times our individuals with disabilities who had difficulty accessing technology. We're left behind in that. So I'm really looking forward to seeing what those web accessibility rules are and how we can integrate them into the tools that we use.

I think also for my field in higher education, there's always a lot of conversation about how we can be really good partners with industry and how we prepare our students for their future career goals. And so you're hearing about and seeing more of an emphasis on what does the content the student is learning. Maybe not so much at the degree level, but individual skill level, what are they learning that then they can take with them into their next employment opportunity?

And that's something that I'm really proud of the university because we focus on how our students are earning skills as they go through the content that they are learning in their classes. So I think that's something for us to be keeping mindful of and looking at those opportunities for higher education as well as industry to partner together.

Wendy Fong: And HR professionals can apply that to their organizations. Looking at your website, your organization website, is it accessible and how it's built in the HTML, you can work your IT teams, technology, making sure that that's accessible for all different needs, and then even what you apply to students can also be applied in the workplace as well. So lastly, Kelly, well thank you so much for your time here. You've really shared a lot of great data, a lot of great resources, not just from the University of Phoenix, but also I hope our listeners will check out the SHRM Foundation initiatives and they're all free resources and the certificate program that you can take.

Well, how can listeners find you or University of Phoenix and connect with you?

Kelly Hermann: Sure. So anyone who wants to connect individually, I'm on LinkedIn and certainly feel free to find me there. It's Kelly Hermann with two N's. But if you want more information about the survey that we just did and some of the other activities that we do to share what we've learned about accessibility, you can head to phoenix.edu/media-center and you'll find the information about the survey there as well as all of the other things the university is up to.

Wendy Fong: Great. Awesome. Thanks so much for your time, Kelly. We really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule and want to thank the listeners for tuning in. So if you haven't already, please subscribe. So you'll never miss an episode of Honest HR. As we mentioned at the top of the episode, this episode is eligible for 0.5 PDCs towards your SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP recertification. After you finish listening, enter this activity ID into your SHRM certification portal. 23-M as in Monday, C as in corn, D as in door, N as in nice, and P as in popcorn. 23-MCDNP.

Be sure to rate and review the show wherever you listen to podcasts. We really value your feedback. Feel free to reach out to me. I'm also on LinkedIn. And if you'd like to learn more about the Honest HR podcast, about myself or the other hosts, or to get additional resources on what was discussed in today's episode, head over to shrmm.org. That's shrm.org/honesthr. And to learn more about other SHRM podcasts as well at shrm.org/podcast. So until next time, take care of yourselves, take care of each other, and peace out.