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How to Make Your Workplace Better for Employees With Disabilities

The people you hire for your business have a huge impact on the success of your company. Although disabled people have often been overlooked by many companies during their hiring process, this group of individuals has a lot to offer businesses of different types and sizes. They may need accommodations for their disabilities, but if they are capable of completing job assignments, they can be great assets to your team. Courtesy of Strategic Lifelines, here's how you can make your business a more appealing workplace for people with disabilities.

First, Make Sure You’re Legally Ready for Employees

All businesses need an EIN, also known as an Employer Identification Number. This nine-digit number is assigned by the IRS and is used to identify businesses for tax purposes. All businesses that have employees must have an EIN, and it is also required for businesses that file certain tax returns, such as quarterly estimated tax payments. In addition, an EIN is needed to open a business bank account and to apply for business licenses and permits. Basically, an EIN is an essential part of doing business, so if you're starting a new business, be sure to apply for one as soon as possible.

Cultivate an Inclusive Company Culture

Diversity is a great asset for your company and can bolster its corporate responsibility reputation. However, diversity does not equal inclusion. You must spend time cultivating an inclusive company culture if you want people with disabilities to feel comfortable working for your business. Let all of your employees know that you appreciate their skills and value what they bring to the table despite their disabilities. Make each person feel like a valued member of your team by offering praise for good work and incentives for keeping your customers happy.

As the boss, inclusivity starts with you. You can work on creating a positive company culture that values diversity and inclusivity by:

  • Doing your best to streamline the hiring process to be as quick and transparent as possible

  • Developing a personal working relationship with each employee

  • Checking with employees to ensure accommodations are helping

  • Evaluating the atmosphere of your company and terminating toxic individuals

Make Your Workspace Accessible to People With Disabilities

People with disabilities often cannot work in the office environment without accommodations. For people with physical disabilities, you may need to provide access to elevators and automatic doors to make it easier for them to access the building. For other disabilities, you may need to consider providing your employees with a quiet room for sensory breaks or dimmed lighting and sound to avoid overstimulation.

Change Your Recruitment Tactics

Actively seeking disabled people to work for your company often makes it look like you are trying to fill a quota to make your business seeing more inclusive. Instead, you should focus on hiring the best person for the job regardless of disabilities. Just because a person has a specific disability does not mean that he or she is incapable of completing job assignments for your company. You should welcome people with disabilities to your business and not exclude them from the hiring process when you learn about their disabilities.

Learn About Working With People With Disabilities

People without disabilities often have ableist language skills and thinking patterns. It takes time, effort and knowledge to understand how to interact with disabled people in non-offensive ways, so you must learn about various disabilities before you can work effectively with people who have them. The best way to learn this information is to ask people who have those disabilities. For example, if you are working with a blind employee, ask him or her how you can best help accommodate the disability and what constitutes overstepping. You may learn that verbal cues and navigation help on the first day but become unhelpful if you continue.

As an employer, you should incentivize people with disabilities to join your team to enrich your company. Using these tips, from getting your EIN squared away to learning how you can make your work environment better for people with disabilities, is a good way to start.

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