United States

Region: Americas

Disability Definition

The term “disability” means, with respect to an individual: (A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual;(B) a record of such an impairment; or (C) being regarded as having such an impairment (as described below).

In general, major life activities include, but are not limited to, caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. A major life activity also includes the operation of a major bodily function, including but not limited to, functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions. An individual meets the requirement of “being regarded as having such an impairment” if the individual establishes that he or she has been subjected to an action prohibited under this chapter because of an actual or perceived physical or mental impairment whether or not the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity. This shall not apply to impairments that are transitory and minor. A transitory impairment is an impairment with an actual or expected duration of 6 months or less.

Legislation

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), passed on July 26, 1990, made it illegal for employers to discriminate against qualified job applicants and employees based on their physical or mental disabilities.

The ADA Amendments Act (ADAA) of 2008 (P.L. 110-325), updated and brought alignment between disability legislation, became effective on January 1, 2009. Access the Chapter on Employment.

Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, requires access to programs and activities that are funded by Federal agencies and to Federal employment. For federal contractors with contracts in excess of $15,000, Section 503 regulations require companies to establish an aspirational utilization goal of 7 percent. The goal is not a quota. It is applied to the same job groups that are created for Executive Order 11246 affirmative action program (AAP). Contractors using the EEO‐1 job categories as job groups in the Executive Order AAP, apply the goal to EEO‐1 job categories. However, contractors with a total workforce of 100 or fewer employees, apply the goal to the workforce as a whole. More details on Section 503 are located under Employer Requirements. Review Section 503

On September 24, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) published a Final Rule revising the regulations implementing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Section 503) at 41 CFR Part 60‐741. These regulations became effective on March 24, 2014. You can view the regulations on the OFCCP Web site here. 

Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act was the first disability civil rights law to be enacted in the United States. It prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in programs that receive federal financial assistance, and set the stage for enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Section 504 works together with the ADA and IDEA to protect children and adults with disabilities from exclusion, and unequal treatment in schools, jobs and the community. Access the Department of Education regulations implementing Section 504

Access to information and communication technology (ICT) is addressed by Access Board standards and guidelines issued under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 255 of the Communications Act. The Board jointly updated its Section 508 Standards and Section 255 Guidelines in January 2017.

 

 

Employer Legal Requirements

Disability discrimination occurs when an employer or other entity covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended, treats a qualified individual with a disability who is an employee or applicant unfavorably because she has a disability. Learn more about the Act.

Disability discrimination also occurs when a covered employer or other entity treats an applicant or employee less favorably because she has a history of a disability (such as cancer that is controlled or in remission) or because she is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor (even if she does not have such an impairment.

The law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer (“undue hardship”).

The ADA standards are issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) and apply to facilities covered by the ADA in new construction and alterations. DOJ’s standards apply to all facilities covered by the ADA, except public transportation facilities, which are subject to DOT’s standards.

Both standards are very similar and are closely based on the Board’s ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). Standards

For federal contractors with contracts in excess of $15,000, Section 503 regulations require companies to establish an aspirational utilization goal of 7 percent. The goal is not a quota. It is applied to the same job groups that are created for Executive Order 11246 affirmative action program (AAP). Contractors using the EEO‐1 job categories as job groups in the Executive Order AAP, apply the goal to EEO‐1 job categories. However, contractors with a total workforce of 100 or fewer employees, apply the goal to the workforce as a whole.

The Section 503 regulations require that contractors document and update annually several quantitative comparisons for the number of IWDs who apply for jobs and the number of IWDs they hire. Having this data assists contractors in measuring the effectiveness of their outreach and recruitment efforts. The data must be maintained for three years to be used to spot trends.

For covered entities, the Section 503 regulations require contractors to invite applicants to self-identify as individuals with disabillities, incorporate specific language in the company equal opportunity clause, allow government access to records, and bring alignment with ADAA defintiions.

Under the ADA, employers must make their websites accessible for applicants. Under Section 508, employers must make their public facing websites accessible for customers.

 

 

Accessibility Requirements

Access to information and communication technology (ICT) is addressed by Access Board standards and guidelines issued under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 255 of the Communications Act. The Board jointly updated its Section 508 Standards and Section 255 Guidelines in January 2017.

Laws also require employers to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer.

 

Cultural Norms

While the social model and pride in disability identity exists across the nation, in many communities stigma, fear and medical model perceptions of disability remain. Disability activism has a significant social media presence, while demonstrations and pride parades are expanding across the nation. Disability Services are available on American campuses to support college students with disabilities. While the state vocational rehabilitation agencies and the workforce development system have matured their operating models, including business relations programming, a significant employment gap remains between those with disabilities and non-disabled individuals.

Additional content coming soon.

Insights

In the Bureau of Labor Statistics Jobs Report released in March 2019, the employment-to-population ratio for working-age people with disabilities was 30 percent in February 2019. For working-age people without disabilities, the employment-to-population ratio was 74.1 percent. The employment-to-population ratio, a key indicator, reflects the percentage of people who are working relative to the total population (the number of people working divided by the number of people in the total population multiplied by 100).

Among people with and without a disability, those who had completed higher levels of education were more likely to be employed than those with less education. However, people with a disability who had attained at least a bachelor’s degree were still about three times less likely to be employed in 2017 than those with no disability. Across all levels of education, people with a disability are much less likely to be employed than people with no disability.

Reflecting the increased prevalence of disability with age, people with a disability tend to be older than people with no disability. Nearly half of all people with a disability were age 65 and older in 2017, three times larger than the share of those with no disability.

Supplier Diversity

Certification is in place for Disability-Owned Business Enterprises (DOBEs) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Enterprises (SDV-DOBEs) via Disability:IN. 

Certification is in place for women-owned business enterprises via Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), which also places those businesses into the WeConnect International Directory of Women’s Business Enterprises.

Certification is in place for LGBT-owned business enterprises via the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

Certification is in place for Minority Business Enterprises via the National Minority Supplier Development Council.

The US Government operates a Small Business Administration that assists with supplier diversity for small businesses.

 

 

Talent Sourcing Resources

In the United States there are hundreds of talent sourcing organizations serving individuals with disabilities across the country. Many of the sourcing organizations are local and/or regional organizations and are non-profit, non-governmental and governmental organizations and institutions. Further, universities, colleges and community colleges also provide sourcing opportunities for companies. The models and opportunities for building sourcing partnerships vary. For this Directory, we have provided our Disability:IN sourcing programs along with a sample of other organizations for your consideration.

Disability:IN operates Inclusion Works which connects participating corporate partners with Disability:IN subject matter experts and unites them around disability inclusion through leading practices and tools. The experts assist the participating Fortune/Global 500 companies to accelerate disability inclusion through customized services and plans, including talent sourcing initiatives.

Disability:IN NextGen Leaders are college students and recent graduates with disabilities who have demonstrated talent and leadership to be attractive applicants for Fortune 500 roles, particularly in the STEM, finance and business fields. NextGen Leaders participate in two Disability:IN programs: Mentorship Exchange and the Talent Accelerator. Both are career development programs that connect NextGen Leaders with Disability:IN corporate partners. Disability:IN works with approximately 1,000 students each year through the Mentorship Exchange and Talent Accelerator programs, NextGen Council, and Alumni Network.

Vocational Rehabilitation serves approximately one million individuals with disabilities per year, and has over 25,000 staff across 80 agencies in all 50 states and U.S. territories. Access the VR Agency Directory

The Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) Talent Acquisition Portal (TAP) is supported by a National Employment Team which includes VR Business Consultants in every state, the territories and Washngton, D.C. that can provide support services to your business at the national, state and local level. TAP being supported by VR and other partner organizations offers the largest talent pool of candidates with disabilities in the United States, making tapABILITY.org the premier web portal for business to hire individuals with disabilities.

American Job Centers (AJCs) provide free help to job seekers for a variety of career and employment-related needs. Nearly 2,400 AJCs, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, are located throughout the United States. Directory:

Getting Hired is dedicated to helping individuals and veterans with disabilities connect with inclusive employers through a job board.

Bender Consulting Services, Inc., provides disability recruitment services and employment expertise based in recruiting, screening, and hiring early career professionals with disabilities employers.

The Workplace Initiative helps companies recruit, hire and retain the largest untapped source of employment talent in the country: people with disabilities.

The Workplace Initiative strives to close the employment gap for people with disabilities by creating scalable solutions for disability employment and inclusion through partnerships and consulting services. The Workplace Initiative enables companies to amplify disability as a critical component of diversity.

The Workplace Initiative helps organizations learn how to recruit, hire and retain talent with disabilities and strengthen the capacity of organizations to train and educate job seekers with disabilities. We help companies design, implement and sustain programs for hiring talent with disabilities.

Additional Resources

Disability:IN is the leading nonprofit resource for business disability inclusion worldwide. Our network of more than 170 corporations expands opportunities for people with disabilities across enterprises. Our organization and 50 Affiliates raise a collective voice of positive change for people with disabilities in business.
Disability:IN promotes disability inclusion by heightening awareness, advising corporations and sharing proven strategies for including people with disabilities in the workplace, supply chain, and marketplace.
Disability:IN expands opportunities for people with disabilities by helping companies invigorate their disability initiatives, explore best practices, incorporate culture changes, and realize positive business outcomes.
Disability:IN also created this Disability:IN Global Directory, a collaborative disability inclusion database with country profiles to help companies achieve disability inclusion and equality around the world.
Visit Disability:IN online to learn more:

Disability:IN Affiliates empower business to achieve disability inclusion and equality locally. Affiliates offer opportunities to:
– Engage locally with industry peers on disability inclusion;
– Interact with Disability-Owned Business Enterprises (DOBE®), Service-Disabled Veteran Disability-Owned Business Enterprises (SDV_DOBE) and Veteran Disability-Owned Business Enterprises (V-DOBE);
– Access training and educational events; and,
– Gain assistance connecting with local sources of talent with disabilities.
Learn more about the Affiliates and use the online Affiliate Locator to easily identify a local professional or affiliate in a specific area in the United States.

The US Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy is the only non-regulatory federal agency that promotes policies and coordinates with employers and all levels of government to increase workplace success for people with disabilities.

The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) helps employers recruit, hire, retain and advance people with disabilities. In addition to hosting webinars and other events, EARN also maintains a website, AskEARN.org, which provides information on: recruiting and hiring; retention and advancement; laws and regulations; creating an accessible and welcoming workplace; and federal contractor requirements.

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is the leading source of free, expert and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues.

The Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) promotes the employment, retention, and career advancement of people with disabilities through the development, adoption, and promotion of accessible technology. The website has many resources, including TalentWorks, a resource that helps employers and human resources professionals make their e-recruiting technologies accessible.

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities. As a national cross-disability rights organization, AAPD advocates for full civil rights for the over 60 million Americans with disabilities by promoting equal opportunity, economic power, independent living, and political participation.

The ADA National Network consists of 10 regional ADA Centers and an ADA Knowledge Translation Center. The regional ADA Centers are distributed throughout the United States to provide local assistance and foster implementation of the ADA.

 

References

Disability:IN Annual Conference: The Disability:IN Annual Conference & Expo attracts over 1,500 attendees from across the United States and around the world. There are four (4) separate educational tracks: Workplace, Supply Chain, Global, and Technology, plus several targeted topics and roundtable sessions. These tracks, unique sessions, and roundtables accommodate the varied professional and educational needs of attendees working to enhance disability inclusion in the workplace and supply chain.

Getting to Equal: The DIsability Inclusion Advantage – New research from Accenture, in partnership with Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), reveals that companies that embrace best practices for employing and supporting more persons with disabilities in their workforce have outperformed their peers. Access the report

CEO Start Guide to Disability Inclusion (January 2019)

Autism at Work Playbook: Developed in collaboration with the University of Washington Information School, the “Autism @ Work Playbook” represents insights mined across Employer Roundtable members to help other organizations explore new approaches to identifying talent and generating meaningful employment opportunities. The playbook provides guidance for every step in an organization’s implementation lifecycle, including recruitment planning, program resourcing, interviewing and training processes, onboarding, retention and more.