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The Americans with Disabilities Act: Advancing America's Ideals

Since its earliest days, America has been known the world over as a nation of entrepreneurs.  Today, this spirit is perhaps best reflected in the millions of small businesses that everyday play a critical role in job creation and economic growth in communities across the country.

America's entrepreneurial character stems from its founding premise of equal opportunity, first enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and later affirmed through laws enacted to ensure more people can fully realize it.  One such law is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed into law 23 years ago this week.  Like other pieces of civil rights legislation before it, the ADA paved the way for more Americans to fully participate in all aspects of community life, including employment. 

ODEP offers a variety of resources to help employers of all sizes understand their obligations under the ADA.  For example, the  Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is the leading source of free, expert and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations—a critical component of the ADA's employment provisions.  Employers can also find resources related to hiring and retaining people with disabilities by accessing the Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN), a free service of ODEP's National Employer Technical Assistance Center. 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) also offers guidance on the employment provisions of the ADA, with specific resources available for small businesses.  Its publication titled The Americans with Disabilities Act: A Primer for Small Businesses is an easy-to-read overview of the ADA's basic employment provisions as they relate to employees and job applicants.  In addition, small businesses can contact one of EEOC's Small Business Liaisons for one-on-one guidance. 

Together, these resources can help small businesses understand how the ADA applies to specific situations and steps they can take to foster a workplace culture inclusive and welcoming of the skills and talents of all qualified individuals.

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