Walking the Employment Talk

What Would You Think About Hiring a Person with a Disability?

What if the next person who walked in the door to interview for a position in your company walked in using a white cane? Explained that they used a screen magnifier on their computer, or pulled out a handheld magnifier to read some of the documents you presented to them?

Might you wonder if they were capable of doing the advertised position? Would you worry about the liability in your workplace of someone with a vision impairment? Is there a quiet voice whispering in your ear, “It’s the right thing to do, hiring a person with a disability?”

The 2018 NDEAM theme—America's Workforce: Empowering All—appears in the bottom half of the poster in red and navy blue lettering. Below the theme are the words National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The setting of the image is an office meeting room where an employee wearing a red polo shirt and using a power wheelchair is presenting the outcome of recent research on his laptop computer to three co-workers. At the bottom left is DOL's logo with the following words: OFFICE OF DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT POLICY, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR. Center bottom is hashtag NDEAM and the URL to ODEP's website dol.gov/odep.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and the theme is “America’s Workforce: Empowering All.” You might be surprised to learn that “walking the talk,” on hiring an employee who is blind, visually impaired, or who may have some other disability is one of the smartest things you can do for the bottom line of your business!

Sure, for many of us, the idea of offering a job or opportunity to someone with a disability, may conjure up all kinds of emotions—some of them very conflicting, and most of them based on misperceptions. Consider for a moment some of these facts:

Workplace Accommodations Won’t Affect the Bottom Line

Most workplace accommodations cost little or nothing. The average cost of a workplace accommodation is a one-time cost of less than $500 ($1.37 per day for the first year). Research documents lower turn-over rates for employees with disabilities, higher safety records, and less time out of work due to accidents. Workers with disabilities are absent less often than co-workers according to studies at Dupont and IT&T research. (See “Myths, Misconceptions, and Realities Of Disability” for more information).

Workplace innovation increases, research shows, with diversity among employees. According to Sipperstein et al, 92% of American consumers surveyed in 2005 viewed companies more favorably if their hiring included workers with a disability.

Employers–as you can tell from the research, walking the talk, opening the door and welcoming a diverse workforce, one that includes individuals with disabilities is one of the smartest things you can do to boost your bottom line!

Check out the stats on the Department of Labor website or the Forbes article on The Benefits of Disability in the Workplace”.

More About Employment of People with Vision Loss

Ideas for Employers

Job Accomodation Questions and Answers for Employers

Legal Considerations for Employment