Americans with disabilities face many challenges in life. So, the federal government created the Americans with Disabilities Act to prompt employers and others to provide safe and accessible environments through modifications (which are sometimes called productivity enhancers). These changes enable those with a disability to get a job and perform tasks to the same extent as those without disabilities.
Common examples of enhancers
There is a wide range of enhancers recommended by the Office of Disability Employment Policy, from basic to quite complex. Often these changes actually benefit a broad range of employees and not just for the ones they were intended:
- Ramps instead of stairs
- Restrooms with handicap modifications
- Ergonomic workstations
- Computer software to accommodate visual or physical disabilities
There can be other workplace changes not related to equipment. Changes can also involve:
- Modified work schedules to accommodate the worker
- Job description changes
- Changing tests to accommodate a disability and allowing qualified support staff (such as sign language interpreters or service animals)
Government support is also available
While these are all great reasons to do it, employers are also eligible for work opportunity tax credits (WOTC) if they hire from certain target groups. They can also apply for Disabled Access Credit, which provides a non-refundable credit of $5,000 to provide access for disabled staff.
The benefits of using disabled staff
Some may have had the misguided attitude that disabled workers would be more trouble than they are worth. However, businesses of all sizes have found it beneficial to hire disabled staff. Generally, hiring disabled staff sets an inclusive tone in the workplace that influences the thinking of colleagues and customers who come in contact with them. These staff members also tend to be loyal if treated respectfully, becoming increasingly essential team members.
Business owners and employers may be interested in making changes, but they do not know where to start, perhaps worrying that a misguided attempt could lead to a lawsuit. Those with these or other concerns can consult with an employment law attorney to minimize the chances of missteps and increase the chances of successfully instituting reasonable accommodations.