Finding a job is even harder when you have a disability

Cindy Powell

High unemployment continues to plague the disability community. According to the 2007 Disability Status Report, 80 percent of adults without disabilities were employed. However, only 37 percent of 18- to 64-year-old people with disabilities worked full time or part time. Thirty-five years of studies have revealed that:

  • More than 90 percent of employees with disabilities rated average or better on their performance evaluations.
  • Employees with disabilities had no greater absenteeism rates than employees who did not disclose disabilities.
  • There was no difference in safety records of employees with disabilities and employees who did not have disabilities.
  • Employees with disabilities remained in their jobs longer than the general workforce.
  • Employees with disabilities maintained higher than average company loyalty.
  • Seventy-three percent of employees with disabilities required no accommodations.
  • For those who required accommodations, 19 percent of job accommodations cost nothing.
  • Employees with disabilities provided an inside marketing advantage to customers with disabilities.
  • Eighty-seven percent of consumers stated they prefer to patronize businesses that hire individuals with disabilities.

Regardless of this data, the National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems (NAPAS) reported that one out of three applicants with disabilities say they’ve often encountered job discrimination:

  • been refused job interviews;
  • not been hired for jobs they were qualified for;
  • given fewer responsibilities and compensation than their peers;
  • been overlooked for promotions; and
  • been denied health insurance.

Experts predict that there will soon be a shortage of laborers to fill jobs. Millions of Baby Boomers are approaching retirement age. As a result, employers will be required to access a large untapped resource:

qualified employees with disabilities.

In addition to Americans with Disabilities Act(ADA) technical assistance, the following tax incentives might be available to employers and businesses:

Disabled Access Credit

Up to $5,000 yearly credit for small businesses with under $1 million annual revenue or 30 or fewer full-time employees

Barrier Removal Deduction

Up to $15,000 for costs to increase accessibility Work Opportunity Tax Credit

Up to $2,400 credit for each new hire’s wages paid in first 12 months

Cindy Powell has instructed specialized sign language courses since 1979. As a Colorado Disability Program navigator, Powell was a recipient of the International Association of Workforce Professional’s 2006 Services to Specialized Populations Award. Her articles on disability are published in print and online.

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