Making accommodations for disabled people proven to be low-cost in new study

The U.S. Department of Labor announced that a new report finds that nearly half of the workplace accommodations made for people with disabilities can be implemented at no cost to employers. Of those that incur a one-time cost, the median expenditure has decreased compared to previous reports to only $300.

The newly published report “Accommodation and Compliance: Low Cost, High Impact” by the Job Accommodation Network — a service of the department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy — analyzes survey data collected from employers from 2019 to 2022. The survey collected cost information from employers using online questionnaires, which increased the number and diversity of responses significantly. Before 2019, JAN collected cost information via one-on-one phone calls. These employers, representing a wide array of industry sectors and sizes, contacted JAN for information initially about workplace accommodations and/or the Americans with Disabilities Act.

As well as producing information about the cost of these accommodations, the report also explored the benefits, effectiveness, and employer motivation for implementing adjustments.

It was discovered that more than half of the employers had made accommodations for disabled staff of various backgrounds, that 68.4 percent of the employers felt that the accommodations were either very or extremely effective, and that an additional 18.3 percent of employers felt that making accommodations were somewhat effective.

Our team is unsurprised by the results of the Job Association Network’s survey because we happen to be an example of a team that makes accommodations for our majority-disabled staff. Inclusivity comes at a small cost most of the time, but the results in both the short-term and long-term are exponential. In the short term, employers are offered a chance to draw from a greater pool of talent than they otherwise might have only employing people that are non-disabled. In the long term, the business will reap the benefits of impassioned and productive workers, grateful for opportunities that they might not otherwise receive elsewhere. Not only does this benefit the worker, but also the business owners themselves, who will be seen as respectful, credible, and inclusive by potential clients who will resonate with this modern and inclusive approach.

What’s more is that we would consider our inclusivity a direct factor in our success, as much as we are an accessibility consultancy and it, therefore, makes sense we offer a first-hand perspective on disability issues, it also happens to be the way society is headed. The UN released sustainable development goals which have become the blueprint of business practices and play a key role in architectural development.

Much like the rest of the developed world, the United States also has an aging population, and we naturally age and become elderly, the likelihood that we develop a disability increases, whether that’s a sensory impairment like blindness or Alzheimer’s, or something physical like a mobility impairment.

At Direct Access, we challenge the false and baseless narrative that disabled people are incapable of achieving greatness, so it’s important that we work together to create job opportunities for disabled people today, and the first step in allowing them to boost our economy is by accommodating their needs. Whether this is achieved by putting a wheelchair ramp onsite, allowing people to work from home, installing a visually supplemented fire alarm, increasing biophilic and natural elements within offices, or simply allowing employees to work from home (which cuts costs both for businesses and the employees) – we can create an inclusive and sustainable future that benefits everyone in our society.

But the question remains, how do you prepare for this future? Well, Direct Access can help you with that.

We can provide your facility with a comprehensive accessibility audit that reviews every aspect of your site, from the front desk to the employee lounge to your digital spaces such as websites and social media. Our consultants, comprised largely of disabled people with personal experience of barriers to work, will guide you in what you can do to become compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, but go beyond the legislation – which is outdated in many ways.

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