Businesses benefit by hiring people with disabilties

March 26, 2018

This piece is presented by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

Approximately one in five people have a disability. Many people with disabilities want to work but have not been given the opportunity. When we focus on a person’s ability rather than the disability, we can assist in achieving the person’s goal to attain employment.

In the U.S., the employment rate for people with disabilities ages 21-64 is 36.2 percent, while the employment rate for people without disabilities in that same age group is 78.9 percent. There is a gap of 42.7 percentage points, which shows there is an untapped pool of skilled, qualified job-seekers with disabilities. We also know businesses are struggling to fill their workforce needs.

By fostering a culture of diversity, which includes people with disabilities, businesses benefit from different perspectives about confronting challenges and achieving success. Not all businesses know how to successfully recruit, retain and promote people with disabilities. Business Resource Network can help. BRN serves as a liaison between job-seekers with disabilities and businesses looking for qualified employees.

Here’s what businesses need to know

  • People with disabilities have equal or higher job performance rates, higher retention rates and lower absenteeism than people without disabilities.
  • According to a national survey of consumer attitudes toward companies that hire people with disabilities, 92 percent view companies that hire people with disabilities more favorably than those that do not. Additionally, 87 percent of the public would prefer to give their business to companies that hire people with disabilities.
  • People with disabilities are experienced problem-solvers with a proven ability to adapt. They bring unique perspectives and experiences to the workplace.
  • Job accommodations for people with disabilities are usually low cost or no cost.
  • A recent study conducted by the Job Accommodation Network revealed that 56 percent of workplace accommodations cost nothing. Of those accommodations that did have a cost, the typical one-time expenditure by businesses was $600.

Tax incentives can help

Tax incentives can provide an added benefit for businesses by offsetting costs associated with accommodating an employee or making their facilities and services accessible. These benefits include:

  • Work Opportunity Tax Credit. This federal income tax credit is available to businesses who hire certain targeted groups who consistently experience higher unemployment because of a variety of employment-related barriers. As a result, businesses may be eligible to receive a percentage of an employee’s wages during their first one to two years of employment. The South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation oversees this program.
  • Small Business Tax Credit. This is a nonrefundable credit for small businesses that incur expenses for providing access to people with disabilities. An eligible small business is one that earned $1 million or less or had no more than 30 full-time employees in the previous year. For further information, click here.
  • The Architectural/Barrier Transportation Deduction. This deduction pertains to businesses who may take annual deductions for expenses related to removing physical, structural and transportation barriers for people with disabilities. For further information, click here.

For additional guidance, please consult your accountant.

Other services available

There are many additional services offered by a variety of state and local organizations, often at no cost to the business. The goal is to make the employment process as uncomplicated as possible for both the business and job-seeker. Examples include:

  • Situational assessment. Both the applicant and trained staff come to the job site to observe or participate in job duties. There is no cost to the employer for this time or service, nor are they obligated to hire the applicant. The assessment is an opportunity for the business to observe the applicant in the job setting. At the same time, the assessment allows the applicant to see if he or she could do the job and would like to apply for it.
  • On-the-job-training. Funding may be available to assist businesses with training costs. This program can subsidize up to 50 percent of a person’s wages while being trained.
  • Job coaching. Trained and certified staff are available to assist the new employee with learning his or her new job at no cost to the business. This can be an incredible money and time saver for the business.
  • Follow along. Trained and certified staff continue contact with the business and new employee for 90 days to ensure the learning process is progressing as planned.
  • American Sign Language interpreter. Certified  interpreters can be provided at no cost to the business for interviews and training sessions during the first 90 days of employment.

Free training provided

Business Resource Network offers a variety of training opportunities and presentations to businesses large and small at no cost. Topics include:

  • People-first language/communicating with people with disabilities.
  • Myths vs. facts about employing people with disabilities.
  • Employee and employer panels for your organization or event.
  • BRN informational session.

Additional resources can be found on BRN’s website at or by contacting Vicki Kerkvliet at or 605-215-1760.

To see more workforce development strategies, read the latest edition of WIN: Workforce Information Now from the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

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Businesses benefit by hiring people with disabilties

There’s a gap between how many people with disabilities want to work and how many have jobs. That could mean opportunities for businesses.

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