The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 attempted to remedy the issue of high unemployment rates among this population. This act contains a range of provisions to protect the civil rights of disabled persons, prohibiting discrimination in employment, public services, public assistance, and telecommunications. Researchers note, however, that although more people in this protected group are searching for jobs, few opportunities exist. Here are some of the key benefits for companies that provide jobs for disabled candidates.
1. It costs next to nothing.
While some employers are concerned about the expense of making accommodations for these employees, the U.S. Department of Labor, Job Accommodations Network annual report notes that many requested workplace alterations can be implemented free of charge. For example, those with disabilities may benefit from scheduling flexibility, dress code allowances, or the ability to sit instead of stand.
2. It’s an opportunity for diversity.
The more diversity in a workplace, the more opportunity to bring new ideas, solutions, and skills to the table. Excluding an entire population would do a great disservice. For example, a 2015 White House Report, “Recruiting, Hiring, Promoting, and Retaining People with Disabilities,” notes that disabled persons can help small business owners understand the needs of this population and their families, and that customers prefer to shop where proprietors support and provide jobs for disabled individuals. This is the third-largest market segment group in the United States, representing 54 million Americans.
3. Many persons with disabilities have earned undergraduate or graduate degrees.
Because colleges and universities were required by the ADA to accommodate these Americans, more people have been able to access specialized education that makes them a boon to employers.
4. It promotes a positive work environment.
Research shows that providing accommodations for those with disabilities leads to improved employee morale, longer tenures, less absenteeism, and more reported job satisfaction. These effects were evident among all employees, regardless of inclusion in a protected group. This was especially true of places that strive to create an inclusive culture and shared language around diversity, an action that promoted loyalty among workers.
5. Some may be eligible for tax incentives.
Employers who create jobs for disabled persons and/or qualified veterans are often eligible for federal tax credits such as the Disabled Access Credit and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC). The federal Architectural/Transportation Tax Deduction is available for architectural or transit changes made to accommodate groups that may need assistance to access a workplace. Depending on the location, state tax credits often apply as well.
6. Businesses can receive support.
Substantial federal and local resources exist to help develop the necessary framework and accommodations. Good starting points include the U.S. Department of Labor guide “Business Strategies that Work: A Framework for Disability Inclusion” and the U.S. Department of Education’s “Disability Employment 101.” Those interested in technological accommodations should review the work of the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT), an initiative funded by the Department of Labor.