Disability Friendly Strategies

Employers who include disability issues in corporate diversity policies enrich and enhance workplace benefits in the new economy. Such benefits include diverse leadership, innovation, increase in overall morale and the ability to cast a wider recruiting net. Outlined below are strategies to successfully incorporate persons with disabilities into the workplace.

Make a corporate commitment to include persons with disabilities among your stakeholders.

Is the CEO committed to a disability friendly workplace? Do corporate policies, procedures and practices specifically mention disability? Do person with disabilities serve on the board? Are workers with disabilities employed at all skill levels in the workforce, including senior management positions? Are your products or services marketed to customers with disabilities?

Educate all staff on disability.

Does new staff orientation include disability awareness training? Are training materials available in alternate formats such as large print, Braille, and captioning? Do employees with disabilities serve as mentors for new hires who do not have disabilities?

Provide ongoing information on disability.

Are staff familiar with legislation pertaining to disability? Is disability information provided routinely in the company newsletter or on an intranet site? Are disability resources in the community contacted to help injured workers return to the workplace as soon as possible?

Form a disability support group.

Do employees with disabilities meet to discuss disability employment issues? Does this group have authority to make recommendations to management? Is all staff aware of this group and the contributions it makes to corporate success?

Provide accessible facilities and services.

Are buildings, parking areas, work spaces, and communication systems accessible to persons with disabilities?

Accommodate applicants and workers with disabilities.

Is there a central source and budget for accommodations? Are applicants and employees informed that accommodations are available if needed? Does staff routinely stay abreast of new developments in universal and assistive technology?

Project a disability friendly image to attract candidates and customers with disabilities.

Do college recruiters target students with disabilities when making campus calls? Do recruiters search for resumes on disability-related Web sites? Are recruiters and other personnel responsible for establishing working relationships with community agencies serving applicants with disabilities?

Hire applicants with disabilities.

Do recruiters regularly attend employment fairs for candidates with disabilities or target students at colleges with known populations of students with disabilities such as Gallaudet University and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf?

Train and advance workers with disabilities.

Do employees with disabilities routinely participate in employer-sponsored training opportunities? If not, has this issue been brought before the Disability Support Group for recommendations? Are procedures in place to promote qualified employees with disabilities to management and supervisory positions?

Encourage staff to volunteer in the community.

Is staff encouraged to build relationships with disability community service organizations? Does staff make regular visits to high schools to inform administrators, teachers and students with disabilities about open houses or job trends in your industry?

Source: This information was prepared in cooperation with the Business Leadership Network (BLN), an employer-led endeavor of the Office of Disability Employment Policy supported by the U. S. Chamber of Commerce. This program promotes best disability employment practices to enhance employment opportunities for job candidates who happen to have disabilities. For more information about the BLN and other programs of the Office of Disability Employment Policy check out our Web site www.dol.gov/odep/ or call 202-693-7880.