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Assistive Technology in the Workplace/Guide for Small Businesses
Small Businesses Need Not Fear ADA Rules, Regulations
By Brian Werth, Hoosier Times
An informative handbook entitled Hiring and Supporting People with Disabilities may help ease fears some small companies might have about the Americans with Disabilities Act. The booklet (or downloadable PDF) was released on June, 2003 by the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce in Indiana.
The American with Disabilities Act (ADA), which has been around since 1990, is still misunderstood by many. The chamber booklet spells out in a concise manner the responsibilities businesses have under the ADA and explains how easy and inexpensive it is to provide reasonable accommodation.
Steve Howard, president of the Bloomington chamber, believes the handbook will stimulate business owners and managers to look at their work force in a different way to develop a work environment that is better for everyone.
The booklet is available for free at the Bloomington chamber office, 400 W. Seventh St., the Bloomington Human Rights Commission office at 401 N. North St., and at Options for Better Living, 214 S. College Ave. It can also be downloaded by clicking here.
One area of the seven-page publication provides practical pointers that help apply the legalese of the ADA to real life work situations. For example: Employers don't have to hire someone with a disability over a more qualified person without a disability. The ADA's goal is to give people equal opportunities, not unfair advantages.
Funding is available to help offset the cost of providing reasonable accommodations. Small businesses with either $1 million or less in revenue or 30 or fewer full-time employees may take a tax credit of up to $15,000 each year for the cost of providing reasonable accommodations such as sign language interpreters, the purchase of adaptive equipment or the removal of architectural barriers. The credit is called the Small Business Tax Credit, IRC Section 44: Disabled Access Credit.
Businesses that hire people from certain targeted low-income groups, including people referred from vocational rehabilitation agencies and people receiving Social Security income, may be eligible for an annual tax credit of up to $2,400 for each qualifying employee who works at least 400 hours a year.
Don't use safety concerns as a blanket excuse for not hiring a person with a disability. Your employment decisions need to be based on specific, substantiated concerns about a particular person, not on myths, unsubstantiated fears or stereotypes, about a person's ability to do the job safely.
For All Employers
Disability Employment 101
The U.S. Department of Education, in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, released a guidebook to acquaint business leaders with programs and resources available to assist them in hiring people with disabilities. This booklet has been revised several times since initally released. The most recent publication date is 2007.
The jointly developed publication, Disability Employment 101 includes information about how to find qualified workers with disabilities, how to put disability and employment research into practice and how to model what other businesses have done to successfully integrate individuals with disabilities into the workforce.
Copies are available on-line by clicking here and are also available through the department's "ED Pubs" service on the Web or by phoning 1-877-433-7827, faxing 1-301-470-1244 or writing ED Pubs, P.O. Box 1398, Jessup, MD. 20794-1398.
Accessible formats are available such as Braille or large print. Please contact the U.S. Department of Education's Alternative Format Center by email, email@example.com or telephone at 202-260-0818.
The Sierra Group
The Sierra Group assists businesses by finding technology accommodations to keep employees with disabilities at their jobs. It also helps job candidates re-enter the workplace with assistive technology. Read how The Sierra Group provides diverse solutions to help individuals achieve their full capabilities by clicking here.
America's Heroes at Work
America's Heroes at Work is intended to provide information for employers about traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress syndrome, as well as guidance on implementing workplace accommodations for affected employees. In addition, it will supply information about job coaching and mentoring programs. Also includes contact information for the Job Accommodation Network, which gives employers personalized assistance with job accommodations for disabled veterans. For more information, click here.