Posted On: October 5, 2023

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), an initiative that promotes the rights of individuals with disabilities in the workforce. This year, the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has chosen "Advancing Access and Equity" as its theme.

Employers can follow this theme by taking deliberate actions to ensure that their employees with disabilities have equal access to opportunities, services, and facilities and are always treated with fairness and respect.

In this article, we'll explore NDEAM's significance, provide practical tips for an inclusive workplace for employees with disabilities, and offer insights on complying with federal regulations for accommodations.

What Are the Benefits of Disability Inclusion?

People with disabilities represent a vast untapped labor market, and research shows that disability employment and inclusion are correlated with:

  • Innovation in inclusive products and services that benefit everyone
  • Greater profitability and improved shareholder value
  • Lower workforce turnover
  • Improved productivity
  • Improved reputation

Many companies that rated high on disability inclusiveness have reported that employing persons with disabilities is not as expensive or challenging as many companies assume. According to a US Department of Labor study, 59% of disability accommodations cost employers absolutely nothing. The rest cost only $500 per employee with a disability. Given the proven business case for increased disability inclusion, this should be considered more of an investment than a cost.

Tips for Creating a More Inclusive Workplace

Becoming a more inclusive workplace is a long and multifaceted process, but here are a few tips on places to start:

  • Examine your recruiting and hiring process for inadvertent filters for people with disabilities and remove any barriers you find. Also, examine your eligibility and qualification criteria for unnecessarily restrictive standards.
  • Look for recruitment opportunities that will help you attract employees with disabilities.
  • Establish a disability-focused employee resource group (ERG).
  • Participate in Disability Mentoring Day and offer hands-on programs, job shadowing, and ongoing mentoring to youth with disabilities.
  • Establish policies for workplace flexibility, including remote work and flextime. These options benefit employees with disabilities, but they also benefit everyone.
  • During exit interviews, ask if disability accommodations played a role in their decision to leave.
  • Educate employees in disability inclusion.

Complying with ADA Regulations

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that protects the rights of individuals with disabilities in various aspects of public life, including employment. As an employer, it is essential to understand and comply with ADA regulations related to disability accommodations. Here are some key considerations:

  • Reasonable Accommodations: Engage in an interactive process with employees to determine reasonable accommodations that enable them to perform essential job functions. This could include modified work schedules, assistive technology, or changes to the work environment.
  • Documentation: Maintain clear records of accommodation requests, discussions, and resolutions. Documenting these interactions demonstrates your commitment to compliance and can be essential in case of any disputes.
  • Confidentiality: Treat all information related to an employee's disability with confidentiality and sensitivity. Share relevant information only with individuals directly involved in the accommodation process.
  • Recruitment and Hiring: Avoid disability-related inquiries during the hiring process. Focus on assessing applicants' qualifications and abilities to perform the job, ensuring a fair and equitable selection process.
  • Harassment and Discrimination Online Training: Specialized courses, such as those provided by 360training, can educate employees and help foster a culture of respect, inclusivity, and equal opportunity at work.

Learn More About Disabilities and Supportive Policies

Our online anti-harassment and discrimination/ADA compliance course covers various types of disabilities, how they impact people in the workforce, and what accommodations should be made.

In fact, we have a full suite of HR, Ethics, and Compliance courses to help you build an inclusive and supportive workplace.

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Harassment and Discrimination: ADA (Compliance Snapshot)

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