Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I hire people with disabilities?
There are so many reasons but here are 5.
1) They are the largest untapped workforce in the US and are highly skilled and able to learn new skills.
2) They are innovative. They see the world from a different perspective and bring that perspective to the workforce.
3) Companies who hire from the disability community average 2x more revenue because it increases your customer base significantly and the disability community and their family support inclusive companies.
4) Employees who have disabilities are 20% more likely to stay with a company than the average employee.
5) Employees who have disabilities take 20% fewer vacation and sick days and are 20% less likely to have on the job accidents leading to workman’s compensation claims.
BONUS reason! There are tax incentives, deductions, and government funded paid internships (California only for paid internships) for hiring employees with disabilities.
How do we introduce disability into our work force?
I suggest starting with upper management. Without them on board you will make little to no progress. You will want us to come in and do a Disability Etiquette (aka Disability Awareness) training for upper management and ultimately all your employees. This gets the conversation going and helps make everyone feel comfortable working with people who have disabilities.
How do I find tasks/work for an employee with a disability to do?
Start by looking at these two things…1) What tasks don’t get done as much as you wish they would? 2)What positions have the highest turn over? If you feel you need more assistance reach out to Strategic Employment Solutions for assistance and a functional assessment of job tasks.
How do I find employees who have disabilities?
There are several organizations in most cities who sources individuals who have disabilities who are looking for jobs. Most are non profits and some are National organizations. ARC, UCP,….are some national ones. Strategic Employment Solutions can help you find the right organization to partner with that is in your area.
How do we promote that we want to hire employees with disabilities?
To promote/advertise that you are actively recruiting employees with disabilities there are 3 things you must do. 1) Make sure that your website demonstrates that you are interested in hiring. You may have an employee group you can share, or stories about those who already work with you who have disabilities, or different ways you interview based on ability etc. 2) Reach out to local agencies who source talented and skilled jobseekers who have disabilities. 3) Ready your HR department by looking over your accommodations process, interview processes and make sure they are trained on how to demonstrate that your company is open to making reasonable accommodations.
Just stating that you are EEOC compliant will not do. You must go the extra mile to recruit the best and brightest in general. Now you must go the extra mile to recruit the best and brightest people who have employees.
For more information schedule a consulting call and let Strategic Employment Solutions help you with these 3 steps so you can diversify your workforce.
How do we promote disclosure of a disability?
First you have to have a corporate culture that fosters disclosure. Make sure employees know that accommodations will be seriously looked at and that they will not be penalized. Advertise this on your web site by having current employees do short videos about their experience working there and their accommodations. Please refer to the article Disclose or Not Disclose for 5 steps a company can take to promote disclosure of disability. (coming soon)
What is the difference between disclosure and self identification?
Yes. In the most simple terms Disclosure is when you tell your employer or prospective employer about your disability or health condition whenever you feel it is appropriate or when you need an accommodation. Self-Identification is when an employer, usually the HR department, asks if you “self-identify” as a person with a disability usually prior to hiring and once a year as maintenance. You are not required to do disclose or self identify.
Many people will not disclose a disability because it doesn’t affect their job performance and they feel if they disclose they may be looked at in a different manner. Many do not self identify as they fear it will stop them from getting a job offer or a job offer will be taken away or if they are asked after being employed that there will be a stigma attached to them.
The reason that employers ask employees to “self identify” is to track and promote diversity and inclusion goals, they may be required by law to do so, or to keep count of the types of jobs applicants and employees they have had in a period of time who identify.
Both disclosure and self identification are considered confidential information and should not be shared with those outside HR or those who are in charge of approving accommodations.
Are there incentives for hiring employees who have disabilities?
YES. There are several and they each have their own guidelines and rules. There are the following incentives: ADA tax incentives/deductions, WOTC incentives, and in California there is the Paid Internship Program (PIP). You can find more information on each of these by clicking on the title you are interested in below.
Is it important for company leaders/decision makers to lead diversity and inclusion initiatives?
YES! Research shows that companies who’s top leaders/decision makers lead diversity and inclusion initiatives they are more successful. The reason is because they are the people that other employees follow. Does this mean that it has to be the leaders/decision makers idea? NO. But if it is an employee’s idea regardless of rank, they need to get the buy in of a leader/decision maker to make sure change happens.
Do Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) need at least one member to be a company leader/decision maker?
YES! The reason behind this is that you need someone who can initiate the change at the corporate level as well as someone who has access to funds that may be needed to make changes. If you have a group that is not “sponsored” by a leader/decision maker then it is much more difficult to initiate change and the ERG group could turn into a complaining session or disband because they are frustrated. By having a leader/decision maker as a sponsor you are more likely to get extra trainings and resources and better understand the goals of the company and why changes are or are not happening.
Is it legal to only recruit job seekers with disabilities for certain positions?
YES it is legal. Every company has a hiring initiative at some time. Some companies may be looking to hire more women and consider female candidates for positions before looking at male candidates. Other companies may have an initiative to hire other minority groups based on race, orientation, and disability among other categories.
There are federal laws that pertain to larger corporations that require diversity in the workforce and have percentages to strive for. The only way to reach those numbers is to interview and hire from those groups. Now you may not find a candidate that fits the job description, and you may look at the general population to find a qualified candidate and that is fine. But you must start from the group in which you are looking to increase numbers in. If your initiative is to hire more employees with disabilities, then YES, by all means, recruit from the disability community. If you cast a wide net you will find someone who has a disability who will fit the needs and also help you reach your diversity goals.
What are ADA tax incentives/deductions?
Section 44 of the IRS Code allows a tax credit for small businesses and Section 190 of the IRS Code allows a tax deduction for all businesses.
The tax credit is available to businesses that have total revenues of $1,000,000 or less in the previous tax year or 30 or fewer full-time employees.
This credit can cover 50% of the eligible access expenditures in a year up to $10,250 (maximum credit of $5000). The tax credit can be used to offset the cost of undertaking barrier removal and alterations to improve accessibility; providing accessible formats such as Braille, large print and audio tape; making available a sign language interpreter or a reader for customers or employees, and for purchasing certain adaptive equipment.
The tax deduction is available to all businesses with a maximum deduction of $15,000 per year. The tax deduction can be claimed for expenses incurred in barrier removal and alterations.
For more information: https://www.ada.gov/taxcred.htm
What is WOTC?
WOTC (Work Opportunity Tax Credit) at a glance:
- A one time tax credit for each new hire.
- Must fill out and submit appropriate IRS and DOL forms
- Credits Range from $1200-$9600 depending on target group
- Amount varies based on # of hrs worked and wage amount
- Employees must work a min of 120 hrs to qualify for credit
- Tax credit = 25-40% of employee’s annual wages
For more details visit:
What is a Paid Internship Program (PIP)?
The paid internship program is an opportunity for employers to provide vocational training and experience to an individual at no cost. Each position is matched with an individual based on their strengths, interests and goals. Employers may be reimbursed up to $10,400 per year towards the employment of an individual with a developmental disability.
To give employers access to a pool of motivated individuals who bring fresh thinking, innovation and diversity to their workplaces. To give individuals with developmental disabilities the opportunity to participate in career exploration while gaining new vocational and social skills.
Internship or apprenticeship must be a real position in the community in an integrated setting and not any other special environment. Full or part time internship should result in the intern getting hired or developing skills that will lead to future employment
Total amount reimbursed to employer can be up to $10,400 in a year.
Earnings must be at least minimum wage and similar to what others are earning doing the same job and have the same opportunities for advancement as others in the same position.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: What is the length of the internship?
A: There is no set length of time or number of hours to be completed during the internship. There is only a maximum allowable cost of $10,400 per year, per intern.
Q: Am I required to hire the intern after the internship is over?
A: No, however if your intern has done a good job and you have an open position, we strongly encourage you to hire them as a permanent employee.
Q: Who is responsible for paying the intern?
A: There are options. Either the employer or the community agency or a Financial Management Service (FMS) provider. If the employer is the payer of record, they will be reimbursed by the supporting vendor.
Q: What costs are associated with hiring a paid intern? What costs are covered?
A: If the employer is paying the intern all costs are reimbursed by the community agency up to $10,400 per year. Costs covered include: wages, payroll costs, insurance and liability. If the community agency is paying the intern, all costs are covered up to $10,400 per year.
Q: What is the process and what documentation is needed from the employer?
A: The employer must keep accurate records of time sheets, wages and associated expenses. Employers will submit an invoice and be reimbursed by the community agency or the FMS.
Q: Who is responsible for the supervision of the intern?
A: The employer can provide overall supervision of the intern as you would all other employees. The employer may also choose to have the community agency provide additional individualized job coaching to the intern as needed- with a focus on reducing that support over time as the intern gains skills and confidence.
What is ADA?
ADA stands for Americans with Disabilities Act. It is federal law that requires the removal of barriers so people with disabilities have equal access to goods, services, information and programs. It applies to businesses of 15 or more employees but benefits smaller businesses as well.
For more info: www.ada.gov
Why should I comply with ADA law?
ADA lawsuits are on the rise. Businesses in the USA pay an average of $16,000 per ADA settlement. This does not count the cost of fixing the infraction.
The cost of fighting the allegation (not settling) is typically four to five times the average $75,000 in annual income generated by the business.
Do you need some guidance on where to start thinking about hiring employees with disabilities into your workforce?
Why should I use hashtags with capital first letters?
How many times have you seen a hashtag that goes on for days like #disabilityequityinclusionintheworkforce? Hard to read right? Now what if it was written #DisabilityEquityInclusionInTheWorkforce. Is that heasier to ready? Most definitely. Writing it this way does not change how a computer reads and distributes it. But it does help those with visual challenges, second language learners, and those with dyslexia or other learning challenges read the hashtag. If more people can easily read your hashtag more people can search it and use it.
Why should we have an official Accommodations process?
What needs to be included in a company’s accommodation process?
Three things need to be included…1)Analyze what the barrier is. 2) Work with the person who is requesting the accommodation. 3) Identify possibilities 4) Assess the effectiveness of the chosen possibility. For more detailed information and or a customized Accommodation Plan, request an Accommodation Training for your HR department.
What is the average cost of accommodation?
The average accommodation costs $500 or less and many are free. There may be some accommodations that have a one time cost that is more than $500 such as computer programs, special chairs or desks, ramps, etc. But on average they are $500 or less. And remember the accommodation just has to remove the barrier, it doesn’t need to be the most expensive accommodation available. There are also tax deductions available to most companies for these accommodations.
Do we have to accommodate all disabilities?
Can I fire someone with a disability or are they “untouchable” once hired?
If you have a solid accommodation plan, have followed that plan and have documentation of accommodations, extra training etc, then you can definitely fire an employee who is not fulfilling the required job tasks. Make sure you have documentation so that if the employee decides to sue for discrimination you will have proof that you tried all you could to make the situation work.
What is considered an "unreasonable hardship"?
The EEOC defines “undue hardship” as it relates to ADA as
“Undue hardship refers not only to financial difficulty, but to reasonable accommodations that are unduly extensive, substantial, or disruptive, or those that would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business.(17) An employer must assess on a case-by-case basis whether a particular reasonable accommodation would cause undue hardship.”
To determine an “undue hardship” companies must look at and document several factors including:
- the nature and cost of the accommodation needed;
- the overall financial resources of the facility making the reasonable accommodation; the number of persons employed at this facility; the effect on expenses and resources of the facility;
- the overall financial resources, size, number of employees, and type and location of facilities of the employer (if the facility involved in the reasonable accommodation is part of a larger entity);
- the type of operation of the employer, including the structure and functions of the workforce, the geographic separateness, and the administrative or fiscal relationship of the facility involved in making the accommodation to the employer; and
- the impact of the accommodation on the operation of the facility.
So as you can see, it will be different for every company based on many factors. The important thing is that you do your due diligence and document all your reasons why an accommodation doesn’t work or why you chose a more cost effective accommodation over a more expensive accommodation.
What if our work environment is too dangerous to hire employees with disabilities?
First, research shows that employees with disabilities are 20% less likely to have accidents/workman compensation claims than their typical counterparts (based on research). Second, if you are hiring someone for a job, say in a warehouse with lots of moving parts, there would be certain skills required for the job. So you would only hire an employee who has a disability who has that skill set. If they have said skill set they should be safe in the environment. Anyone, regardless of ability, can get injured on the job. It is unfair and false to say that people with disabilities are more likely to have an accident due to work environment.
What is meant by an "accessible job description"?
An accessible job description is a description that does not use verbiage that exclude those who may use accommodations that are not “typical” to do their work. Statements such as “manual dexterity to type”, “ability to speak in order to communicate” or my favorite “ability to lift 25 lbs” can alienate qualified candidates who have disabilities. In this day and age we have technology that does not require “manual dexterity” in order to type a document or work a computer. There is technology that aids in those who are deaf to communicate to the hearing via the use of verbal words. So it is important to be aware of the verbiage you are using.
Similarly, many job descriptions go on forever with things the company “would like” the employee to have. Research shows that every job has 5-7 core tasks that are required for that employee to be an asset to the company. This is a best practice overall, not just for accessibility. The shorter and more specific the job description the easier it is for EVERYONE to decide if they qualify and want to apply for the position.
Please take the time to look over ALL your job descriptions and see how accessible they are when it comes to how things are worded.
What is the difference between EQUAL and EQUITABLE rights?
Equal means that everyone gets exactly the same supports and accommodations. Picture a tall, a medium height, and a short person trying to see over a fence. You give all of them a 6 inch box to stand on. Now the tall person can see over. The medium heights person has to stand on their toes, put in a lot of effort to see, and can barely see over. The short person can’t see over no matter what. That is EQUAL. EQUITABLE is giving the tall person nothing because they can already see over the fence, the medium height person a nine inch box so they can see over with ease, and the short person a 12 inch box so they can see over easily as well. For more detail on how this pertains to employment read Equality vs Equity (coming soon)
Does race impact the likelihood of a person with a disability getting hired?
There is no evidence that race impacts a person with a disability being hired. It appears that disability trumps all other possible discriminating factors. Within the disability community there is discrimination regarding people of color with disabilities and white people with disabilities just like in our community there is still discrimination between typical people of color and typical white people. Disability doesn’t discriminate, it affects all cultures, races, religions, and gender identities.
What is Federal law 503 part 30?
Government contractors/subcontractors need to have and implement affirmative actions plans to increase the total number of employees with disclosed disabilities up to 7% of your workforce.
For more information : https://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/section503.htm
What areas/locations does SES serve?
What do i get in a custom training?
Our custom trainings are created to fit your needs. We have a proprietary process called I.D.E.A. We Identify your current resources. We Define your needs. We Empower and Educate you and your staff. Then we Assess how the implementation of your plan is working and tweak it as needed. Some plans are lengthy, others are just a few trainings. You get to decide how much or little you need at the present time. There is always room to grow. So weather you want to implement hiring employees with disabilities company wide, or just in one department, we can create the perfect plan for you to hire, retain, train and include employees with disabilities in your workforce. Just contact us for a 30 min consultation.
What is Alt text?
Alternative text, or “alt text” describes the content of images, graphs and charts. It should be added to every image that conveys meaning in instructional and communications materials including websites, word processing documents, and slide presentations.
Alt Text should be as descriptive as possible. A bad example would be, if you had a picture of a pie chart with 4 quadrants with percentages in them and you said, “picture of a pie chart”.
A better description would be “A four quadrant pie chart of the results of a survey on favorite sports. 25% liked football, 10% liked surfing, 30% liked baseball, and 35% liked hiking”.
This description describes the results that the chart shows.
What are the benefits of Alt text?
Like most accommodations for those who have disabilities, this accommodation not only helps people who are blind or visually impaired access the information on your website or presentation, it also helps the SEO on your website. So double bonus!
What is the difference between a service animal and an emotional support animal?
In a nut shell the difference is training. Service animals go through rigorous trainings and licensing which allow them to provide a specific service to their owners and also have the ability to go into multiple environments and work. By work I mean they are focused on their job. A seeing eye dogs job is to navigate their owner through their environment without incident. A service dog’s job could also be warning their owner that a seizure is coming on, or picking up dropped items, the list goes on and on.
In comparison an emotional support animal is typically not certified and licensed like a service animal. They are there primarily for comfort. Many emotional support animals have gone through little to no training and unfortunately people have taken advantage of this which has led to problems for those who have services animals.
Emotional support animals who have not been trained as service animals are more likely to act like pets than service animals are. Meaning they will bark, sniff around, socialize with others. Whereas service animals who are trained will ignore everyone except their owner and be very “serious” about what is going on around them.
An emotional support animal can be trained as a service animal and get certified and licensed. But there are far more instances of people saying their emotional support animal is a trained service dog when they are not.
As a business owner, what can and can't I ask regarding if an animal is a service animal?
“To determine if an animal is a service animal, you may ask two questions:
Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?
You may not ask these questions if the need for the service animal is obvious. Examples include when a dog is guiding an individual who is blind or is pulling a person’s wheelchair. In addition:
You may not ask about the nature or extent of an individual’s disability
You may not require proof that the animal has been certified, trained or licensed as a service animal
You may not require the animal to wear an identifying vest or tag
You may not ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the task or work
Under the ADA, it is training that distinguishes a service animal from other animals. Some service animals may be professionally trained; others may have been trained by their owners. However, the task that the service animal is trained to do must be directly related to the owner’s disability.
The handler is responsible for the care and supervision of his or her service animal. If a service animal behaves in an unacceptable way and the person with a disability does not control the animal, a business or other entity has the right to ask that the dog be removed. A business also has the right to deny access to a dog that disrupts their business or poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others. For example, if a service dog barks repeatedly or growls at customers, it could be asked to leave.
Service animals in-training are not specifically addressed in the ADA. However, some state laws may afford service animals in-training the same protections as service animals that have completed their training.”
What is the unemployment rate for people with disabilities?
If you look up the unemployment rate for those who have disabilities on government sites you will most likely see something like this… “The unemployment rate for people with a disability, at 7.3 percent in 2019, declined by 0.7 percentage point from the previous year” (https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2020/unemployment-rate-for-people-with-a-disability-declines-to-7-point-3-percent-in-2019.htm).
This may make you think that most people with disabilities have a job since in 2019 the unemployment rate for a typical person was 3.6% on average. But what you may not know is that the 7.3% unemployment mentioned above does not take 2 main factors into consideration.
1) Many people who are working age and have a disability have NEVER had a job so they are not counted in the national percentage because they have never claimed unemployment.
2) Many people who have disabilities who have had a job in the past DO NOT collect unemployment when they loose their job due to other benefits they receive for having a permanent disability, that are very difficult to re-obtain if lost, and that unemployment (which only typically lasts 6-12 months) would disqualify them from. On average a person with a disability has to apply to 60% more jobs than a typical job seeker, so it would take them more than the 6-12 months of unemployment to find a new job. (Disabled people have to apply for 60% more jobs than non-disabled people before finding one) These people are also not taken into consideration because they are not claiming unemployment.
So if you take these 2 main group into consideration, the actual UNemployment rate for working age people who have disabilities is actually closer to 70- 80%. The sad thing is that this percentage has not moved more than 1% for over 4 decades! (https://adata.org/)
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