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Untapped Talent: Job Seekers With Disabilities

Finding and retaining dedicated, hardworking employees is a top concern for all employers, regardless of size or industry. Yet, a significant source of skilled, reliable employees remains largely untapped: people with disabilities.

Individuals with disabilities possess many unique attributes, most markedly the flexibility to adapt to different situations and changing circumstances. Perhaps more than any other group, people with disabilities are frequently required to think creatively in order to solve problems and accomplish tasks. In the workplace, this resourcefulness translates into innovative thinking, fresh ideas d unique approaches to confronting business challenges and achieving success.

Nearly 2.5 million businesses surveyed for a November 2008 report by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), only 19.1 percent reported hiring people with disabilities. Public administration organizations were more likely to actively recruit people with disabilities than companies in the private sector. Furthermore, according to the National Council on Disability (NCD), only 39 of Fortune 100 companies currently have diversity policies that specifically mention people with disabilities.

So, where to begin? The recently revamped Web site is an excellent resource for information and guidance on creating an inclusive workplace that welcomes the talents and skills of all qualified job candidates, including those with disabilities. The site’s Employing People with Disabilities section contains information which addresses all phases of the hiring and retention process, including:

· Recruiting and Hiring: Access job databases containing resumes from hundreds of qualified potential employees with disabilities, learn about the best recruitment practices, connect with a nationwide network of vocational rehabilitation state employment specialists, read about disability etiquette and obtain free support services.

· Interviewing: Learn about how to prepare and conduct effective interviews, as well as review guidelines on what can and cannot be asked about someone’s disability during the interview process.

· Workplace Accommodations & Supports: Find information on what is meant by a “reasonable accommodation” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), customized employment and flexible work arrangements, supported employment, universal design, personal assistance services and how assistive technologies can increase the productivity and efficiency of all employees.

· HR Tools & Resources: Find information from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and federal government agencies on workplace accessibility, emergency evacuation plans that account for the needs of people with disabilities, workforce development resources and equal employment opportunity obligations.

Other areas of’s Employment section address Tax Incentives, Occupational Health & Safety, Small Business Resources and Success Storiesof businesses who have hired employees with disabilities. also provides information on the laws and regulations that protect the employment rights of people with disabilities, including the recent 2008 amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

For employers and human resources professionals who are interested in capitalizing on this skilled and frequently untapped talent pool, is a trusted resource for the most current information about recruiting, hiring and accommodating people with disabilities.

ABOUT DISABILITY.GOV is managed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). ODEP is leading a 21st century federal response to the historic underemployment of people with disabilities. In collaboration with other government agencies, public and private employers, and additional stakeholders, ODEP facilitates the development and implementation of innovative policies and practices necessary to achieve a fully inclusive workplace. ODEP’s work primarily falls into three categories: employers and the workplace; workforce systems; and employment-related supports, which include education and training, health care, reliable transportation, affordable housing and assistive technology.

The ADA Portal consists of more than 7,400 documents concerning the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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