Employment and Reasonable Accommodation
While the employment rates for people with disabilities have increased minimally in recent years, these consistently and historically hover well below the rates of people without disabilities. Likewise for unemployment rates, people with disabilities are both unemployed and underemployed at significantly higher rates than those without. As a result of this historic underutilization of people with disabilities in the workforce, employment is a huge issue in the disability community. The 2016 version of the Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics Summary document published by the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics demonstrates the persistent inequality related to labor and disability:
Highlights from the 2016 data:
- Nearly half of all persons with a disability were age 65 and over, about three times larger than the share of those with no disability. (See table 1.)
- For all age groups, the employment-population ratio was much lower for persons with a disability than for those with no disability. (See table 1.)
- For all educational attainment groups, jobless rates for persons with a disability were higher than those for persons without a disability. (See table 1.)
- In 2016, 34 percent of workers with a disability were employed part time, compared with 18 percent for those with no disability. (See table 2.
- Employed persons with a disability were more likely to be self-employed than those with no disability. (See table 4.)
Today’s labor data also reveals that not only does it expand diversity and provide opportunities for people with disabilities to have gainful employment, but hiring, retaining and promoting people with disabilities makes great business sense! As stated by Shawna Berger, Director of Marketing and Communications at the US Business Leadership Network:
“Businesses that embrace disability inclusion have found there is a positive correlation between their profitability, employee morale and engagement. These businesses report lower turnover, better safety records, innovation and higher productivity among their employees with disabilities. For customer-facing companies, there is the side benefit of customer loyalty from America’s largest minority group, numbering 56.7 million Americans.” - Why Hire Disabled Workers?, 2/2018.
Title I of the ADA prohibits employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities and applies to employers with 25 or more employees. Reasonable Accommodation (RA) is the process under which an employer allows an employee an accommodation in order that the employee can perform the essential functions of their job. RA may include “(A) making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities; and (B) job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules, reassignment to a vacant position, acquisition or modification of equipment or devices, appropriate adjustment or modifications of examinations, training materials or policies, the provision of qualified readers or interpreters, and other similar accommodations for individuals with disabilities”.
US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Disability Discrimination - This webpage discusses applicable laws and requirements to employing individuals with disabilities, as well as having a robust resources section.
Recruiting, Hiring, Retaining and Promoting People with Disabilities - This document is one of the best handbooks I have ever encountered in terms of covering the important issues and offering comprehensive guidance on how to establish a successful program for people with disabilities at your organization.
Job Accommodation Network (JAN) - The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is the leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues. Working toward practical solutions that benefit both employer and employee, JAN helps people with disabilities enhance their employability, and shows employers how to capitalize on the value and talent that people with disabilities add to the workplace. JAN is one of several services provided by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). Its development has been achieved through the collaborative efforts of ODEP, West Virginia University, and private industry throughout North America.
Inclusion@Work: A Framework for Building a Disability-Inclusive Organization
This new resource supports the idea that having employees with disabilities in a company is good business sense (and cents!). Developed with guidance from a range of employers with experience in disability employment, the guide outlines seven identified “core components” of a disability-inclusive workplace:
- Lead the Way: Inclusive Business Culture
- Build the pipeline: Outreach and Recruitment
- Hire (& Keep) the Best: Talent Acquisition and Retention Processes
- Ensure Productivity: Reasonable Accommodations
- Communicate: External and Internal Communication of Company Policies and Practices
- Be Tech Savvy: Accessible Information and Communication Technology
- Grow Success: Accountability and Continuous Improvement Systems
Guide to Financial Incentives for Employers
This guide provides information on federal and state tax incentives that may be available to help employers capitalize on the skills and talents of workers with disabilities.
Engaging Employers: A Guide for Disability and Workforce Development Service Providers
This guide offers insight and guidance for disability and workforce development professionals, emphasizing their important role in acting as a bridge between businesses and qualified employees with disabilities. It is designed to help service providers adopt a “dual customer approach” by simultaneously considering the needs of potential business employers and their clients with disabilities. The guide covers:
- Establishing Relationships: Keys to Successful Communication
- Understanding the Business Customer’s Needs
- Adjusting Services Delivered to Meet Business Needs
- Meeting Employers Where They Are: Customer Segmentation
- Working Together: Best Practices in Action
- Creating Partnerships: Resources for Ongoing Exploration & Improvement
These one-page accessibility resources, or “cheat sheets,” have been created by the National Center on Disability and Access to Education (NCDAE) to assist anyone who is creating accessible content. These free resources are catered to less-technical individuals, such as faculty and staff.
Disability Language Style Guide
This guide is developed by the National Center on Disability and Journalism. It offers examples of commonly circulated terms related to disability and categorizes them as acceptable, or not. It also offers alternative terms that the disability community has general accepted as usable.
Service Animals and Other Power Driven Mobility Devices (OPDMDs)