How can I ensure my business is accessible and inclusive?
Providing full access to your customers is not only the law, it’s good business. According to the Office of Disability Employment Policy,”[b]y employing people with disabilities, businesses can gain a better understanding of how to meet the needs of this important and expanding customer base. What's more, research shows that consumers both with and without disabilities favor businesses that employ people with disabilities.”
The US Department of Labor’s Guidance on the ADA goes over the myths and facts surrounding employment and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology (PEAT) helps employers, IT companies, and others to understand why it pays to build and buy accessible technology, and how to do so.
Accessible Technology Action Steps: A Guide for Employers is an online resource for employers to make sure their technology is accessible for all employees.
Recruiting, Hiring, Retaining, and Promoting People with Disabilities: A Resource Guide for Employers - Provides employers with plain language technical assistance tools in an easy to use question and answer format.
The ADA National Network- Provides information, guidance, and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), tailored to meet the needs of business at local, regional, and national levels. For additional information, see the Small Business Primer, employer resources, or contact an Information Specialist at 800-949-4232 (Voice/TTY). The ADA National Network Regional Center for South Carolina is the Southeast ADA Center.
Business 30-Second Training Series- Questions designed to educate businesses about strategies to assist employees who experience disability.
Add Us In Initiative (Minority-Owned Business Resources – Disability) - Add Us In
A U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) initiative designed to identify and develop strategies to increase the capacity of the small business community to hire individuals with disabilities.
Employer Assistance and Resource Network (EARN)- EARN provides online, phone, and individualized technical assistance, consultation, and customized training on a broad range of disability and inclusion topics to meet employers’ recruitment and hiring needs. For more information, see askEARN.org or contact a TA Specialist at 855-275-3276 (Voice/TTY).
Occupational Information Network Toolkit for Business (O*NET)- Provides a wealth of information on the features of O*NET and details its many uses for human resource professionals and employers.
Employment Laws Assistance for Workers and Small Businesses (elaws) - the elaws Advisors, developed by the U.S. Department of Labor, assist employers and employees in understanding several federal employment laws, including disability nondiscrimination statutes.
Federal Contractor Compliance elaws Advisor - Helps federal contractors and subcontractors understand basic coverage and compliance information on all OFCCP laws and regulations, including Section 503.
Office of Personnel Management – Disability Employment- Information for federal agencies on recruiting, hiring, and retaining individuals with disabilities.
US DOL OFCCP Section 503 Focused Reviews - The US Department of Labor has put together resources to help federal contractors and subcontractors comply with Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act. Section 503 prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment against individuals with disabilities, and requires these employers to take affirmative action to recruit, hire, promote, and retain these individuals.
Language and Etiquette
When employers use Person-First Language, they help shift the culture to one that views a person with a disability as a person first and foremost. A disability should never be anyone’s defining characteristic, but one trait taken into context of the whole person. Using Person-First Language helps eliminate generalizations and stereotypes by focusing on the person rather than the disability. Our language has the ability to shape attitudes, drive social change, and affect individual outcomes.
What agencies can assist with my efforts?
You don’t have to figure everything out on your own! South Carolina has agencies that can help you navigate accessibility, find qualified job candidates, and ensure an inclusive work environment to retain high-performing employees with disabilities.
Able Access, a program of Able South Carolina, can assist you with making your organization more accessible to employees and clients, including those clients with disabilities, allowing you to reach a wider and more diverse segment of the population. Able Access offers the following services to assist with providing access to people with disabilities: Policy and Procedure Review, Onsite Accessibility Survey, Testing of Online Property for Screen Reader/Magnifier Accessibility, Tailored Training in Disability Topics. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-681-6805.
SC Works Centers can help employers in developing, training, and retaining a strong workforce. SC Works Centers offer free resources to assist employers, including the following: posting job openings; recruiting, and screening of candidates and reviewing job market trends; interviewing facilities and tools and equipment needed to conduct business; veterans recruitment assistance through screening and identifying work-ready veterans; training programs to help find and retain employees, such as on-the-job training, Incumbent Worker Training, customized training and registered apprenticeship; and information on state or federal tax incentives. The SC Works Online Service (SCWOS) compiles all of the state’s regional and local workforce services and resources. SCWOS brings employers and job seekers together using the wealth of information available in the workforce development database. Through the SCWOS system, businesses are able to post positions, search for candidates, and review job market trends.
SC Vocational Rehabilitation Department (SCVRD) consumers have skills, drive, loyalty, and dependability you want, and SCRVD can help you tap into this talent pool through: job matching that connects you with qualified, pre-screened candidates; outsource/training partnerships to meet your needs for quality products or services, and help consumers learn fundamental work skills; internships, apprenticeships, and on the job training which fill any specific knowledge or skills gap at initial employment; post-employment and job retention services to keep valuable employees with disabilities; and tax credits and other financial incentives for training, orientation, and accommodation.
The South Carolina Commission for the Blind (SCCB)’s mission is to prepare, place, and support blind and visually impaired residents of SC in competitive employment. SCCB provides various programs and services to employers such as workplace assessments, technical assistance on accommodations, workplace sensitivity training, talent acquisition, and talent retention, all of these at no charge. The commission’s job ready consumers go through an extensive employment evaluation and vocational training to ensure they are ready for employment, providing you with a highly trained staff member. For more information, contact the Commission at 888-335-5951.
SC WorkReady Communities (SCWRC) - Businesses can receive no cost job profiles to match the specific skills of a job with candidates that have completed WorkKeys or hold the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC™).
Goodwill Industries of the Upstate/Midlands offers job fairs, job listings, and candidate prescreening and referral that can help you find qualified associates to fill permanent employee positions quickly. Businesses can also access certification services and discount SLED checks for employee screenings.
What are my tax incentives for hiring an individual with a disability?
Did you know that, in addition to giving you access to an untapped workforce, hiring individuals with disabilities may qualify your business for certain tax credits?
Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC)- The WOTC a federal tax credit program that may be able to grant a business access to a 40% tax credit on eligible employees’ first year of wages after they have worked 400 hours (wage caps apply). Nonprofit 501(c) entities can participate when hiring WOTC eligible veterans only. Contact: SC WOTC Coordinator Amy Hill at 803-737-2592 or email WOTC@dew.sc.gov
Apprenticeship Credit- A state corporate or individual tax credit equal to $1,000 for each apprentice employed under an apprenticeship agreement is available and can be claimed for up to four tax years for each apprentice. Contact: 803-896-5376.
Credit for Employers Hiring Recipients of Family Independence Payments- This is a state tax credit for businesses that employ persons who received Family Independence (FI) payments in this state for three months immediately before becoming employed. Businesses can receive basic credit amounts of up to 20% of wages paid to such employee for a limited time with benefits available for up to 3 years. Certain eligibility requirements apply and the credit is subject to a cap with a carry forward period of up to 15 years. Some counties are open to higher credit caps. For county classification information, contact the SC Department of Revenue at 803-898-5709. Primary Program Contact: SC Department of Social Services at 800-768-5700.
Small Business Health Care Tax Credit- This credit may be equal to up to 50% of health insurance costs paid by eligible small businesses and up to 35% paid by eligible small tax-exempt organizations for 2 consecutive years beginning in 2014. Specific eligibility criteria apply.
Sierra Group Foundation: South Carolina Tax Incentives List- The Sierra Group Foundation has been established as a 501c(3) non-profit organization for the purpose of reversing the rate of unemployment for people with disabilities.
Disabled Access Tax Incentives- Small businesses are eligible for two tax incentives to help cover the cost of providing reasonable accommodations for employees or customers with disabilities, such as sign language interpreters, readers, materials in alternative format (such as Braille or large print), the purchase of adaptive equipment, the modification of existing equipment, or the removal of architectural barriers.
Small Business Tax Credit (Section 44 of the Internal Revenue Code)- An annual tax credit for eligible small businesses that increase accessibility for people with disabilities. A 50% tax credit may be used for variety of costs such as:
Sign language interpreters, braille, audio tape, large print, or other alternate formats for information
The purchase of adaptive equipment or the modification of equipment
The removal of architectural barriers in buildings or vehicles
Architectural and Transportation Tax Deduction (Section 190 of Internal Revenue Code)- Businesses may claim a deduction of up to $15,000 a year for qualified expenses including architectural changes that increase accessibility.
Barrier Removal Tax Deduction- The Architectural Barrier Removal Tax encourages businesses of any size to remove architectural and transportation barriers to the mobility of persons with disabilities and the elderly; businesses may claim a deduction of up to $15,000 a year for qualified expenses.
Where can I learn more about reasonable accommodations?
Reasonable accommodations can ensure your employees are performing at their highest level. They are also required to be provided by employers under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Reasonable accommodations don’t have to be expensive. In fact, nearly a quarter of accommodations cost nothing at all, and two-thirds cost less than $500.
Job Accommodation Network (JAN) provides free technical assistance services to employers, including one-one consultation about all aspects of job accommodations for employees with disabilities. For more information, visit AskJAN.org or contact a JAN Consultant directly at 800-526-7234 (Voice) or (877) 781-9403 (TTY).
The South Carolina Assistive Technology Program (SCATP) is a federally-funded program concerned with getting technology into the hands of people with disabilities and age-related limitations so that they might live, work, learn, and be a more independent part of the community. SCATP can help agencies and businesses make their services accessible and compliant with federal and state statutes governing access by people living with disabilities. SCATP also provides free or low-cost workshops and hands-on training on functional strategies and the latest devices, along with information on accessible web and information technology.
SC Vocational Rehabilitation Department Rehabilitation Technology has rehabilitation engineers who can provide consultation, individual assessment, and design and fabrication to assist your employees in overcoming barriers at work.