Despite being the nation’s major drivers of job growth, small businesses employ people with disabilities at a much lower rate than large businesses—often because they don’ t have the practical knowledge to ensure their workplace is inclusive and accessible.
Small Business & Disability Employment: Steps to Success was developed to help address this issue. It is a web-based toolkit that provides practical guidance for small businesses on how to recruit and retain qualified people with disabilities. It also describes approaches that business associations—including but not limited to local chambers of commerce and business leadership networks—can use to educate their members about the value disability diversity adds to their workplaces.
Offered as a service of the ODEP-funded Employer Assistance and Resource Network for Disability Inclusion (EARN), Steps to Success draws upon information gleaned from ODEP’s Add Us In initiative, a five-year grant program that funded eight consortia across the nation to identify and test innovative strategies for increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities with small businesses, including those in historically disadvantaged communities.
Steps to Success uses real-life examples from small businesses across the nation to illustrate a range of exemplary disability inclusion practices, ranging from internships and mentorships to accommodations and accessibility.
Additional resources of interest to small businesses include the following:
- Start with JAN: Resources for Small Business (PDF) — A fact sheet with resources for small businesses from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN).
- Opening the Doors of Small Business to People with Disabilities: Critical Concerns and Strategies for Success (PDF) — A research report summarizing the different strategies that small businesses may use to achieve success in recruiting and retaining people with disabilities.
- Small Business Profiles — In collaboration with its Alliance partner Disability:IN, ODEP has developed a number of profiles exploring the disability inclusion efforts of individual small businesses.
- Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) — A federal tax credit available to employers for hiring individuals from certain targeted groups who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment.
- ADA Update: A Primer for Small Businesses — This publication provides general guidance to help business owners understand how to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its design standards for accessible buildings.
Small businesses may also want to check out the resources on ODEP’s Employers page.