Disability, Diversity, and Inclusion: Lessons Learned from Industry Leaders

February 18, 2020


Discussions about the meaningful inclusion of workers with disabilities are often missing from research and practice. Join us as the presenters discuss the findings from a research study that included interviewing industry leaders involved in the diversity and inclusion efforts of more than 40 businesses across the Great Lakes Region (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin). The research team worked with the businesses to better understand the process of creating an inclusive workplace culture in relation to informal and formal policies, programs, initiatives, and practices that support the recruitment, hiring, and retention of workers with disabilities. The presenters provide a summary of some of the emerging best practices and challenges to implementing them. There will be time for participants to ask the presenters about their work.

Speakers URL: https://www.accessibilityonline.org/ADA-audio/archives/110756

February 2020 ADA Audio Webinar: Disability, Diversity, and Inclusion: Lessons Learned from Industry Leaders



Thank you very much. Welcome everyone to the February ADA audio conference session. As we heard, this session will focus on disability, diversity, and inclusion. Lessons learned from industry leaders. The ADA audio conference series is a program of the ADA National Network. The ADA National Network is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation research.

You can research your ADA Center by calling 800 949 4432 or you can locate your ADA Center by visiting adata.org

So welcome again to everyone across the country. We're pleased that you have joined us for today's session, as we are rapidly approaching the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, this coming July 26th.

So today's session, as I mentioned, will look at some research that was done by our speakers today, with us today, we have Robert Gould, who is an assistant clinical professor, as well as Sarah Parker Harris, who is an Associate Professor, both with the University of Illinois Chicago. Department of Disability and Human Development. And part of the Great Lakes ADA Center research team and also joining us is Courtney Mullin.Courtney is a PHD candidate in the disabilities studies program at the University Of Illinois Chicago Department Of Human Development.

So we are pleased to help our presenters with us today. There's going to be an opportunity for you to ask questions at the end of their presentation. For those participating in the webinar room remember you can submit your questions while the presentation is ongoing. For those of you on the telephone, jot your questions down and when we get to the question and answer portion, we will bring our operator, Lovely, and that is her name, I will ask her to come back and give instructions again for our phone participants.

All right. You've heard far too much from me today, so I would at this point turn it over to Rob, Sarah, and Courtney. Welcome and thanks for being with us.


Thank you Peter and to the Great Lakes ADA Center for hosting this webinar and also thanks to everyone who has joined us on the call today. I'm on slide 14. Just to talk about the agenda, if today's session we'll go through briefly key policies that support disability employment and look at some research on disabilities in the workplace. This is to provide context to the study we're going to talk about which is looking at the business case for disability inclusion.

We're going to present on some findings from research on organizational strategies, as diversity. And then finally we're going to end with some discussion and recommendations for practice.

And then we'll have an opportunity for questions at the end.

I'm on slide 15. I'm going to provide an overview of the project.

This project is one of four research projects on ADA implementation as part of the ADA Great Lakes center research projects. The goal of the project is to improve understanding about organizational factors that lead to excellence in ADA compliance, implementation and disability programming.

The project we're going to speak about today has two steps. First was reviewing corporate responsibility reports and the second is qualitative interviews with organizations. And these interviews will remain anonymous, but we will be presenting the results in their own words from the interview.

The purpose of the project is to identify how leaders in the regions recruit, support and retain people with disabilities, and this is in the Great Lakes region. It's to explore how disability is approached in diversity and inclusion efforts. And understand lessons learned in inclusion efforts.

We have a quote from one of our qualitative interviews that really sums up the purpose of why we started to do this project. In their own words, a quote from the interview, too many times it is viewed that diversity inclusion is about gender and race and ethnicity or whatever. But that disability is not seen in some ways. It's not even brought to the table. As you look at the workforce coming up, there's not a lot of people, and we all know that disability is the largest gapped, untapped resource that's out there.

So I believe that larger companies, maybe even medium sized, are at least starting to think about it and looking to where they're going to find that talent.

I'm going to hand over to Rob now who is going to talk through the methodology of our program.


And moving on to slide 16. Thank you, Sarah.

So I want to start by going over the methodology a little bit about how we address this larger problem, and approach the central purpose of exploring the goal of this project.

We started with two core research questions to guide our research. The first is how is disability included in broader diversity efforts? The second is what strategies do organizations use to implement and promote disability as a component of diversity?

Our methods our research project had two stages, as Sarah mentioned. The first was a review of corporate social responsibility practices. Corporate social responsibility is the goal of businesses to look at the social benefits of potential practices. To look at that we looked at the public facing reports, those often found on company's websites, to look at how companies publicly look at their social responsibility strategies. We start with companies that scored 100% in the 2016 US business leadership network which is now known as Disability: In, equality index. The disability equality index is a reporting mechanism that the national organization uses to rank companies based on their diversity and inclusion practice.

Our study today uses the 2015 and 2016 corporate social responsibility reports or the equivalent report that was available to the public.

The second aspect of our today includes interviews with disability inclusion professionals. We look to those who were recommended to us for disability inclusion efforts. Oftentimes these recommendations were made by technical assistance experts from the ADA network. And also recommendations of people involved of disability inclusion within the Great Lakes region.

Next slide.

Moving on to slide 17.

We're going to provide a little bit of broader context, looking at the problems that led us to the research. There's a lot of information that we'll provide in terms of background and we include some references at the end of the presentation. The goal is just too kind of give you a quick overview as we recognize this is a very diverse audience. So we're happy to answer more questions in further detail at the end of the presentation or via email.

One of the starting points, of course, to guide our research was the problem of disability employment in the U.S.

People with disability participate in the labor force at a much lower rate compared to people without disabilities in the U.S. Based on the December 2019 statistics from the Kefflor foundation and the University of New Hampshire approximately 77.3% of people without disabilities participate in the labor force as compared to 33.3% for people with disabilities. Obviously a noticeable gap. People with disabilities are more likely to be underemployed as people without disabilities that’s almost twice as many people with disabilities have part time employment. Employment continues to be a major issue for people with disabilities and a central point of advocacy and related policy.

Next slide, please.

On page 18, the focal point of advocacy is often started with social policy to promote workforce inclusion. Several policies have been developed to address these disparities related to disability employment, as well as match the goals of advocacy, to promote disability inclusion in the workforce.

Three core policies that relate to our central project include title I of the Americans with disabilities act or the ADA, which prevents discrimination on the basis of disability. It also is used to secure reasonable accommodations within the workplace.

Employment First policies are often state led initiative that draws on multiple strategies to encourage community based competitive employment for people with disabilities.

40 states now have Employment First policies or legislations which tend to dictate that employment is the first option for people seeking services within a state system.

There's a wide variation of what these policies look like in practice and oftentimes they reflect the grassroots advocacy of various advocates throughout the disability community across the United States.

A third key policy that reflects this larger goal to promote disability employment is the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Which enhances regulations and activities done by state systems to encourage competitive employment outcomes for people with disabilities. This largely impacts integrated employment through the workforce development system as well as vocational rehabilitation systems.

Moving to slide 19.

There's a number of impacts of these policies and areas of concern that really beg the need for research to better locate ways to strategize more inclusive practices to support disability employment.

There's a number of implementation barriers associated with these policies, and related research related to actually identifying ways to move towards best practice.

First off, we know oftentimes there's been a focus on just complying with the law, rather than moving beyond compliance and changing the very cultures to create more inclusive environments to support people with disabilities.

Even nearing 30 years since the passage of the ADA, there continues to be widespread misunderstandings of accommodations as rights as special treatment. Even though it's not really generalize or understand how prevalent these feelings are, there still continues to be case law looking at the examples of disability rights being misunderstood as special rights.

Traditionally, focus and research and practice has looked at training individuals or what's called the supply side of employment rather than looking at the larger employment environment, which largely is called the demand side of research, to explore market needs and skill sets that employers want in employees.

Moving to the next slide, slide 20, there's a number of trends growing to support this larger push towards a more inclusive workplace. Supporting disability inclusion takes a number of different areas and areas of research to understand best practices.

There's a growing body of research that is shifting towards identifying business practices that enhances disability and inclusion rather than just focusing on individual attributes, what individuals need to do better.

Some of the commonly reported practices include flexible management, a willingness to change and alt alter the work environment as needed to accommodate employees. An understanding of workplace accommodation, enacting the social goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act which is the larger promise of disability inclusion does require certain knowledge about the practices that make it possible.

Some of the ways to really promote that more culture and social aspect of disability inclusion include various employee engagement initiatives, actually getting buy in from the various employees, especially those with people with disabilities tends to be one of those aspects that is seen as leading towards a more inclusion workplace.

Diversity training tends to be an increasingly recognized area of support and disability inclusion opinion although research has shown disability is often left out of such training.In fact there have been very few trainings specifically developed for disability inclusion.

And the last aspect of common research strategy we've seen is top level buy in which will be a major theme of today's presentation.

I'd like to transition and hand it over to Courtney Mullin who will disability and its organizational culture.


Hi. Thanks. This is Courtney. I just wanted to address a quick question that came in. There was a question about a statistic on slide 17 and if that included both white collar and blue collar jobs. Yes, that was a statistic about all labor force participation.

So moving back on to the slide that we're on now, slide 21, so disability and organizational culture disability inclusion tends to fall under the broader umbrella of diversity and inclusion initiatives, and both of these are complex concepts that are impacted and influenced by organizational culture and other practices.

Diversity relates to the differences in experiences, thoughts, and demographics of employees. So looking at all the attributes that make employees unique. Inclusion, on the other hand, is the degree to which the employee perceives he or she is an esteemed member of the working group that satisfies their need for belongingness and uniqueness. Really feeling they're valued for their unique perspective and they belong within that workplace culture.

So a quick statistic for you, a disability is often not considered part of diversity inclusion efforts. However, 82% of the sampled organizations from our research did include disability within their diversity and inclusion statements. However, this may be somewhat biased since we only looked at organizations that had received accolades for their disability inclusion efforts. So while disability is increasingly becoming a focus of business diversity and inclusion initiatives, it's often still overlooked as a part of diversity.

Next slide, now on slide 22, we're shifting toward disability as a part of diversity. There's three main reasons that have been identified in the research as reasons that businesses have disability inclusion initiatives. The first is compliance with public policy, such as the ones that Rob just described. However, complying with regulations has been shown to have a limited effect on human resource or other business practices.

Another reason that businesses have disability inclusion is because of social responsibility. So the public is increasingly expecting businesses to act in a responsible manner, and disability inclusion is seen as the right thing to do by the public.

And last, I'll talk about this a little bit more the next slide, but there are expressed benefits of inclusion. This is referred to as the business case for diversity and inclusion. Where the benefits of having these strategies outweigh potential costs.

We'll go to the next slide, slide 23.

The business case for diversity inclusion is not just a good thing to do, but it's recognized as good business. Diversity inclusion strategies have been shown to increase customer bases, so the market value in supporting diverse employee base matches diverse markets that are available. Also, to recruit top talent, and encourage innovative thinking. Disability groups are largely untapped as a source of innovation and can lead to out of the box thinking.

The next slide. We discuss a few specific benefits that employers can have by including employees with disabilities. One, employees with disabilities have been shown to have longer tenure, which directly relates to a decrease in turnover costs, and providing accommodations to employees with disabilities has been shown to increase productivity in the workplace, increase the likelihood of employees staying with the company, and improving employee morale and job satisfaction which are both core tenants of employee engagement. I'm going to send it back to Rob now to talk more through our methods and approach.


Great. Thank you, Courtney. We're moving to slide 26, please.

I'll talk a little bit more about our methodology, even though I already gave a little bit of a sneak preview about this. We really took two formal steps within our research to start addressing these questions and explore the strategies that are being used to include disability within diversity.

The first step is we did a review of strategies found in 34 publicly available old CSR corporate social responsibility reports from companies that had received national rewards for their disability inclusion efforts. 88% of the samples were listed on the Fortune 500, and some of the most common included industries were health care, aerospace, technology, financial services, airlines. The vast majority of these businesses are headquartered in the U.S. The analysis of these reports helps guide really understand the process of building these inclusive workplaces.

Moving to Slide 27 please.

As I mentioned, the process was really looked at in our second stage of our research, which included anonymous organizational interviews with representatives of 11 large organizations across the Great Lakes region, this includes Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. All had at least 5,000 employees.

A few background facts about the organizations that participated, all of them have a disability based employee resource group, which we'll talk a little bit more in detail as one of our findings. Five of them actually have paid positions working specifically on disability inclusion. Nine explicitly include disability in their employer diversity initiatives. Some of the industries include insurance, financial services, accounting and consulting, health care, as well as medical technology.

The participants had a wide variety of roles within the organization, as we'll talk about. In fact, many of the interviewees actually had multiple roles. Very view of them had a full time job of being a disability inclusion effort expert or really even being a disability inclusion specialist as their only role. Our interviewees included human resources, diversity inclusion, disability inclusion, as well as recruitment specialist.

Collectively, each of these individuals were identified as understanding the process of diversity and inclusion across multiple aspects of their organization.

I would move to the next slide, slide 28, please.

I'll hand it over to Sarah Parker Harris, who will talk about how businesses approach disability inclusion in practice.


Thanks, Rob.

I'm going to move to slide 29.

So these are some of the commonly reported corporate social responsibility strategies that have been included in the public reports.

And I'm just going to go through some of the major categories of what is being done.

Sorry, I was trying to type a response to the question at the same time and speak, and I cannot type and speak at the same time.

So I just wanted to come back to that question. I think it's important. And we're going to be talking through at the end about how people how organizations make sure they include disability in their diversity and inclusion statements without expressly asking their employees in they have a disability, without forcing their employees to disclose.

Part of what we're showing and I'll report on the CSR strategies, we're showing that disability should be included with diversity along the same lines as any other category. It's not requiring or even asking somebody to disclose or to self-identify. It should already be in there the same way that other diversity categories such as gender and race are included. So a company that may not even have people who self-identify as a person with disability could practice still including disability as diversity in there.

Some of the most commonly reported strategies that the organizations report, the two most reported, at 68%, is employee resource groups, related to disability.

That means organizations have employee resource groups, and we will talk about some examples of that next.

And also that disability is included in diversity and inclusion sections.

So the majority of companies actually report that regardless of knowing if their employees have a disability they are included as a diversity category.

And some of the other commonly reported strategies that companies do, they highlight disability inclusion awards. They work on supplier diversity initiatives. And also philanthropic giving and community partnerships.

Some of the less common strategies that are still practiced by organizations that do report high on disability diversity strategies are listing disability benefits packages for employees, customer outreach and accommodation, targeted recruitment of the prospective employees with disabilities, listing employee accommodation resources, and also disability specific employee training.

I'm moving to slide 30.

And we're going to this is focusing more on the organizations that we interviewed.

So with the organizations that we interviewed, in terms of their main approaches to diversity and inclusion, I'm going to I'm going to read out some of the "in their own words" some of the quotes that the participants talked with us about. One of the organizations said so disability is one of the big eight dimensions of diversity.

So that's one we have woven into our diversity inclusion strategy.

That quotes talks to you don't need to identify people with disabilities in your organization to already include it as a strategy. All who we interviewed have existing diversity and initiative at D & I infrastructure and a specific commitment and effort towards supporting a diverse workforce.

Disability in these organizations has been integrated into the broader diversity and inclusion efforts.

Through the following ways.

Through corporate social responsibility planning. Through employee groups and internal communications. Broader diversity counsel initiatives. And through targeted recruiting.

Three key strategies that were identified by all of the people that we interviewed included communities of practice, employee resource group, and senior leadership buy in.

That's what we're going to be focusing on in the rest of the talk today. I'm going to hand it over to Rob who is going to talk through the first finding around community of practice.


So the first finding, looking at community of practice, is really speaking to one of three areas our interview s spoke to in the greatest depth that we really feel like we have a good understanding to provide some practical ideas to find out what's being done to support these ideas and practice.

The first question is what is a community of practice? In the next nine slides we'll go over some findings based on the input of our interviewees. We'll also give some quotes that support our analysis of these findings.

Community of practice are a fancy way of saying standing resource for ongoing conversations about business needs and community partnerships. Often these are business to business groups. In fact, almost all on our participants mentioned working with other businesses in similar industries or even different industries to identify partnerships for collaborations. Oftentimes it might include other outside groups, such as advocacy organizations or independent living centers that are similarly working on inclusive disability strategies.

Community of practice offer ways and avenues of trainings, recruiting of a more diverse workforce, as well as more formalized partnerships, as well.

There is a number of people who do participate in community of practice they can include external partners in similar industries and many often have some sort of executive sponsor, which is some sort of senior leadership that is kind of representing an organization.

Members often are part of multiple diversity groups, and the hopes of partnering with other regional groups to promote more inclusive practices.

We're going to move on to the next slide, slide 32.

So what does participating in a community of practice look like?

Often times communities of practice focus on learning and sharing with other companies to develop strategies, discuss best practices as well as the common barriers to implementing some of these ideas we talk about a day. Oftentimes, they start with raising awareness and sharing resources, as well. If there's been substantial research, as well as practical guidelines to understand the tenants with disability inclusion.

There are increasingly more resources available, and community of practice were described as ways to learn from each other, regarding disability and inclusion, both how it's done in practice as well as ways that companies often want to move forward.

Oftentimes, community of practice can work together, bring in experts to consult on disability inclusion strategies, as it tends to be seen as a strategy that helps multiple businesses and not necessarily something that breeds competition. Oftentimes, community of practice are able to share resources to tap into additional resources within the region to really enhance disability inclusion. For example, universities were one group that were mentioned with a vast majority from our participant’s as sources of partnership, knowledge as well as recruitment pipelines for more diversity.

Oftentimes, bridging between disability providers is often way to actually build and identify new ways of recruiting people with disabilities.

We provide some examples of the community of practice that were mentioned by our participants. The first is Disability: IN itself, which is a national organization, devoted to promoting disability and inclusion as a good practice.

It also included a number of local disability inclusion related business groups, active partnerships between organizations, the National Organization on Disability, as well as local disability related organizations.

Such as workforce development centers and vocational rehab providers.

These were all things that were talked about in depth to enhance disability inclusion in the workplace.

Moving to slide 33, please.

One of the key examples that was provided by our sample was really understanding the benefits of why people really want to engage in these communities, as well as the immediate impact on their inclusive practices.

The primary benefits detailed by the interviews including identifying as a starting point, oftentimes by looking to other leaders within the region, it started the initial conversations about how to get to some new areas of growth. The idea was that this might be a better together approach, where, oftentimes, you can learn from other businesses. Not necessarily reinventing good practices when others have already demonstrated leadership and growing inclusion within their workforce.

Another benefit that it demonstrates an organizational commitment to disability inclusion, the establishment of a community of practice as well as getting a seat at the table often can be a mechanism to raise awareness within the organization.

A community of practice might be beneficial to client relations as it can organically build networking opportunities, as well as a shared learning of best practices.

I'd like to share a quote from one of our participants which kind of gets to this idea of how you might benefit from a shared networking through community of practice.

The quote one of our interviewees said was, “we have started doing some work around building our own training programs, but let's kind of pause that, waiting to see if there are other external organizations that have something to offer. That's where we go back to our link with the community of practice, perhaps something we can leverage from them.”

Oftentimes this leveraging includes helping organizations prioritize and strategize on disability improvements, employee supports, as well as looking at customer outreach. Oftentimes, the supports were seen to benefit employees were also ways to reach out to customers with disabilities, as well.

Community of practice provide increased leadership and visibility, and opportunity for additional training and ways to embrace passion. Many of our interviewees spoke about their passion about disability inclusion, often as a personal experience or that of a family member or some greater goal within their personal life. This way to embrace passion has often been a starting point for engage employees within larger communities or resource groups.

Oftentimes, community of practice were identified as a way to help with self-identification initiative.

Where people tend to be more comfortable disclosing when there's a group of like-minded individuals that creates a culture welcoming of disability and diversity.

The last point I wanted to touch on is that it might be providing a diversity of thought to accompanying activates. Communities of practice offer out opportunity for advocacy around accessibility and accommodations. A number of the interviewees we identified talked about community of practice as a way to identify access needs within organizations, and start internal advocacy as well as shared community advocacy to improve inclusive opportunities for people with disabilities.

I'm going to turn it over to Courtney, who will talk about the employer resource groups which are often a way to build inclusive practices internally within a company.


Thank you, Rob.

So this is slide 34. I'm going to be talking about our second main finding which is, employee resource groups or ERG. So what is an ERG?

Sometimes they're known by other names such as a Business Resource Group or affinity group. They're an employee network to support inclusion and learning related to various aspects of diversity within a company

So they're structured and supports varied across the different interviewees. Some had centralized leadership and others had direct support from their diversity and inclusion staff and even sometimes budgets attached to their group overall.

There are Business Resource Group act as internal resources to inform, educate, and empower employees.

And participation is often done in addition to regular job tasks. So this would be a position that is held in addition to a regular day job.

The primary roles include raising awareness of disability inclusion activities within the organization. So spreading that internal awareness to employees who may not be already connected with a disability inclusion activity. And then Employee Resource Groups also develop disability inclusion strategies. So some were described as developing strategic plans, making recommendations, or advising broader diversity and inclusion divisions or activities.

And then other Employee Resource Groups actually implemented these inclusion activities. And that could be seen as an example such as awareness events, hosting training, such as a lunch and learn about a specified topic, or hosting meet ups for various employees.

Another primary role was advocating and modeling access. Many of these Employee Resource Groups acted as a model for accessibility in meetings or buildings. So the quote to describe this, the ERGs are really trying to build advocacy from within the company itself. But then there's also connection. So the D and I area actually drives more in terms of what the company is doing from a marketing perspective and from a recruiting perspective.

You can see how both the diversity and inclusion strategies in this are connected to the internal activities of the Employee Resource Groups.

We can go to the next slide, please.

So looking at slide 35, how and why do employees get involved with an ERG?

So all of the companies that we interviewed or representatives we interviewed had an existing ERG structure,and disability based ERG’s are often newer than the other affinity groups. Membership or people who are members of the ERG are typically people with disabilities.

Family members or caregivers of people with disabilities, and allies.

There were various incentives or supports offered for people who wanted to be involved, such as professional development, and paid time to attend meetings.

And then there was often, a paid or link on an Internet page within the company to raise awareness about the ERG employee resource group as well as the activities, and resources available.

Additionally, most of the ERGs have a designated leadership either through a rotating presidency or a leading committee or an executive sponsor of some kind.

And there's another example from one of our interviewees.

So there's many different reasons people get involved in ERGs.

And I think the shift we've seen over these years is that ally component and having people just get involved because they want to learn more about the disability community and that people can do things in a different way and don't assume they can't do X, Y, and Z, when they're interviewing because of a disability that's visible.

Now, I'll go on to the next slide.

So what are the impacts of ERGs in the workplace?

So members often host events such as training and awareness raising activities. So the interviewees described how having these trainings about different topics was raising awareness about disability, as well as giving practical advice to the people who attended those trainings.

There's also a leadership opportunity to promote internal growth in networking. So for the members, there is an opportunity to have leadership roles and to network with others across the company.

There's inner-organizational collaboration, such as reviewing key policies, plans, and data. So being able to kind of draw connections across the company that may not have otherwise been made without an ERG.

There's also the benefit of being involved with plans or activities that are guided by company pillars or core values. So employee resource groups act as a way to connect disability inclusion with overarching business strategies.

Showing that clear linkage between the two.

And then finally, something that we found was the internal advocacy to improve disability inclusion efforts.

So employee resource groups were one of the main vehicles to promote self-identification and accessibility initiatives throughout many of our our interviews.

Some of the descriptions from our interviewees, one is, “being a leader in ERG means a lot of exposure to a lot of different executives. Being exposed to a lot of different types of work you might not get in your current job. You get a lot of different training and self-development opportunities.”

So that quote really highlights the benefits that members or leaders of ERGs get by participating in an employee resource group.

The next quote is,“we had each member of our senior leadership responsible for each one of our Business Resource Groups. So it's at the very top level that they're pushing the agenda to make sure that the Business Resource Group has the support, the tools, and the resource that it needs to continue to head out in that particular direction.

But also, we're kind of relying heavily on the Business Resource Group to a certain degree to kind of tell what it is we should be doing and what we should be participating in, and where we should be.”

And that quote highlights how the employee resource groups act as a connection between top down approaches, such as senior leaders setting agendas, and grassroots, so getting feedback from employees themselves about directions of different disability inclusion activities.

So that ERG really acts as that connection piece I'm now going to turn it over to Sarah to talk about our third findings.


So the third common findings across the organizations we interviewed was the importance of senior leadership buy in.

Senior leadership buy in is expressed support and participation in disability inclusive strategies from top level senior leadership within the organization. All of the organizations that we spoke to strongly recommended the need for senior leadership buy in for disability inclusion, because this can set the tone within the organization, and it can raise awareness of the disability inclusion issues. These are important for cultural changes within the organization.

It can also insure other members of the organization were committed to disability inclusion efforts, and gaining support and resources to accomplish disability inclusion activities.

And these are important for systemic changes within the organization.

Senior leadership involvement in the organizations that we spoke to included a variety of different ways that they could participate. Some of the main ways that the organizations spoke about their senior leaders buying into disability as diversity was executive sponsors of employee resource groups, some Senior leaders were assigned and others were volunteered because they had a personal connection either themselves or a family member or a friend or as an ally. Diversity counsels or other groups comprised of senior leaders that help set strategic direction. Senior leaders participated in diversity inclusion activities. This could include such as self-identification campaigns. If senior leaders had a disability and wanted to self-identify, they could spear head self – identification campaign some of the organizations spoke about how this was very successful. Senior leaders participating in communities of practice such as local disability inclusion strategies the ones that Rob talked about earlier.

And also, working as designated leader roles for disability inclusion, such as providing budgets, approving activities, spreading awareness, and providing direction on disability inclusive strategy.

The importance of senior leadership buy in does cross cuts the need for cultural change within the organization. When senior leaders are part of the efforts, the culture of the organization can shift. And it's also important for systemic changes within the organization. To have that senior leadership buy in means resources and support is coming from the very top, which means that change can actually take effect.

Moving on to the next slide, some of the people we spoke to really agreed it was particularly important for the senior leaders to be part of it. And in their own words they said, “I think the people can only be successful with top down. I really do. I think you need to have the leadership support, the tone at the top. I know these are all cliché phrases but it's true. Having them push diversity and inclusion as part of the core values, those are the type of words we use and I think the majority of the people at the firm believe in it as well, but it's because the top down has been so vocal on this topic.”

We're going to move on to discussion and recommendation.

I'm going to hand you back to Rob to take us through this.


We're on slide 40 for those who are following along. We're going to end with a little bit of discussion on the key take away about what it looks like and what can be done to better support disability inclusion in the workforce. Our discussion and recommendation are partly based on our own synthesis of the research, but also we asked each of our interviewees to share what they really thought were the best starting points, especially for those organizations that I are just getting started off in their diversity and inclusion efforts to better support people with disabilities. We asked what were some things that really got organizations started in the right direction?

Our sample was varied in that some were very well developed in their plans and some were just getting started off and were actually having great success already. All in all, they did have some shared ideas about where to begin to build the necessary collaboration for disability and inclusion.

First and foremost, all of on our groups discussed the power of business networking groups to share strategies and resources. Oftentimes, facilitated through advocacy organizations, public agencies, and businesses.

By actually creating these conversations not internally, not in silos, but oftentimes shared information can be a conduit to building more inclusive spaces.

Secondly, having working groups and conferences on the regional and national levels can enhance information sharing and thought leadership.

While all of our findings, our synthesis is from the Great Lakes region, but you'll notice there's a lot of similarities to inclusive practices that are being seen on the national level.

The third element of what can be done to support disability inclusion is that partnerships in internal dialogue through development and the use of internal audit tools. Every one of our participants mentioned using some sort of audit as a discussion point to go through what already exists through policies.

Sometimes, it's actually identifying what exists, whether it's a diversity policy, or perhaps a disability specific practice, so look at that as a conversation point. Disability: IN as well as National Organization on Disability, included in the quality index often identified as a starting point for these conversations.

Many of our participants talked about going through an internal audit process, looking at their internal disability process as a conversation point that ultimately led to building a more inclusive organization.

Last is to work with training and consulting on disability inclusive strategies, both by advocacy groups and other experts.

None of our businesses or organizations mentioned doing it alone. Every single one of them mentioned the need to work with outside organizations, when necessary, to help understand evolving best practices.

The next slide we're moving on to slide 41. Some of the key recommendations that were provided by our interviewees can be read as kind of a road map about where one might begin with building a more inclusive organization.

First is to start with the low hanging fruit.

Often, just by joining a business to business network and starting with a local community of practice, it's an easy way to get these conversations started. It also might be eye opening to see what local organizations are willing and available to support recruitment efforts of a more diverse workforce inclusive of people with disabilities.

The second point is to start reviewing strategies. Is disability specifically mentioned and included alongside other aspects of diversity inclusion and identity? It was resounding amongst our interviewees that each of them mentioned disability should be outright included next to each of these other aspects. Disability inclusion often is an ongoing and evolving process but needs to be looked at similar to these other types of diversity.

The next point that was recommended by our interviewees, was to explore the business case for disability inclusion. Internal organizational efforts often mirror external markets.

There's a transformative potential of actually recruiting people with disabilities a growing recognition of the purchasing power and largely an untapped market of people with disabilities, having a more representative workforce has key customer benefits.

Lastly, is finding a balance to sustain the growth. All of these strategies don't need to be implemented at once. In fact, oftentimes, it takes some leadership that is in place to continue and pass on the torch when necessary. Find a champion such as top down leadership is a great step, but don't let them be your only resource. Find a community partner and find a network to build that commitment which is essentially, and only one part of the process.

I want to wrap up with three quotes, based on the recommendations of where to get started by the interviewees.

The first participant said,"I think the most basic level, if an employer can get employees in similar situations together just to provide support to one another, I think that's a great start. I think that the ideal level, the most mature level, this needs to be integrated across the employee life cycle. Part of recruiting. Part of the onboarding. Part of the ongoing development. Making sure the employees are aware of the support that's out there, throughout their entire duration at the company."

The second idea that was passed on was the idea about how you specifically can approach disability as an issue of diversity within the organization. It starts with, quote, "disability etiquette, I think that's something that a lot of people don't have, they don't grasp, they don't even know that they need to learn about it. And as much as you can raise awareness at your firm, make sure people are treated the way that they want to be treated. Teach people what that means, because a lot of times people mean well, so it's in my mind the best thing is that we start doing it. Openly having conversations about differences, and not making it taboo. On the contrary, encouraging uncomfortable conversations to takes place."

The last quote, symbolizes the strategies about what the process looks like for actually getting to building the culture. How do we get connected and build that strong thought leadership, best practice sharing, better understanding? Because every organization is going to be built a little bit differently. And they're going to have their difference approaches. But I'm a firm believer of understanding your organization well enough to know what's going to work well, what's not, and how do you infuse a little bit more of that stuff that's going to work well into your existing environment and slowly start to change culture in a positive way?"

I really want to end with that quote because I really think it takes the meaning of our presentation to a grand culmination. The process of how you get there in terms of building disability inclusion, what it looks like, really need to be tailored to your organization. We know the strategies we shared today, such as a community of practice, formalized employee organizations, as well as top down buy in are the key starts for many organizations. But, of course, your individual organization is going to need specific tailoring to make this meaningful to you.

We'd like to end on slide 43.

If you have additional questions, you can forward them to me, I am the Director of Research for the Great Lakes ADA Center, you can forward them to me, Robert Gould. My name is rgould3@ uic.edu.

The PowerPoints will be made available through the course link and your registration. Thank you all very much for joining us today. We will now have some time for some questions from the audience.


Thank you, Rob, Sarah, and Courtney. I failed to mention this at the beginning when I introduced you. I did not do a full introduction. You can view all of the speaker bios, Sarah, Rob and Courtney’s information on the Audio Conference website, at ADA-audio.org and select speakers. And you can see their full bios.

And the other thing I wanted to mention was that the research used information contained from the disability equality index from, I think within 2015, 2016. October 2019 audio conference session was on last year's disability quality index. You can check out the archive of that session if you want more information about that.

So I'm going to ask Lovely if you would rejoin us at this time and give our telephone participants instructions on how they can ask questions. Those of you in the webinar room, you can continue to submit your questions in the chat area.

But Lovely, if you can give instructions for our telephone participants at this time, please.


Yes. Again, to ask a question you will need to press star and then the number 1 on your telephone key pad. To withdraw your question press the pound key. Please stand by. We'll compile the Q & A roster.


Thank you for that Lovely. While we wait to see if we have any questions from our telephone participants, when I ask the questions, whoever wants to handle the questions, just speak up and identify yourself.

These are some questions that were submitted in advance. Actually, I'm going to pause here before I go on. There were some questions, Rob and Sarah, that were submitted as you were speaking and as Courtney were presenting. If you could take a moment to go back to the questions you responded to in the chat area so we can caption those through the captioner and folks on the telephone who might not have seen those questions? Read and respond to those.


Thanks, Peter. One question came through when we were talking about employee statistics, if this includes both white collar and blue collar jobs and the statistic does the employment statistics report on all workforce employment.

The second question was how can organizations make sure they include disability in their diversity and inclusion statements? Without expressly asking their employees if they have a disability?

And without forcing their employees to disclose their disabilities without consent?

And what we were talking about today was that disability should be included in diversity. Similarly, to other diverse categories, such as gender and race, regardless of if someone identifies as having a disability or not. Disability is one of those top eight categories of diversity. And so good practice is including it. Employees should never have to disclose or self-identify if they don't want to.

And another question was what would the best process what would be the best process to suggest creating a community of practice in our area? Would it be better to have it led by the local government or one of the disability community organizations?

And with he responded. I'll hand it over to Rob on the response on the community of practice.


Sure. We had a few people write in questions regarding community of practice. Most of the participants in our interviews suggested starting with the business and a connection to the disability community, whether it's an advocacy group, center for independent living or another related agency.

Government often tends to be seen as a way to get information and resources and generally is brought in later to start identifying potential employees. Some of our states potentially mentioned working with workforce development systems, but rarely were they starting points for these community of practice.

A second question, when you mentioned communities of practice, tapping into regional resources such as universities, what does that tapping look like? Is it mostly recruitment? The answer is it is not entire recruitment. One strategy we've seen actually is recruitment, and that's job fairs throughout the region, that's a prominent strategy.

Oftentimes, looking at specific universities, as well, a few were mentioned that have kind of vibrant areas of disability inclusion and culture.

One way to start would be looking at universities that actually have devoted resources to disability culture. In addition to disability resource centers, there's an increasing movement in university settings to actually have student centers for disability culture, which are not just ways to get potential recruitments, but also to really learn about other people, passionate about disability inclusion. These are often hubs for students with disabilities and as cultural partners to learn more about each other.

The last question not did last question, but one additional question we had from the web, was where do we actually find the CSR reports online? That's a great question and something I forgot to mention. The CSR reports are available through our recent publication. Just this month we came out with the initial findings of our review of CSR strategies in the journal of vocational rehabilitation. In that publication, it includes all of the companies that were included in our sample, through the analysis of CSR.

That publication will be posted. A link will be posted on the Great Lakes site. You can contact me if you want additional information about how to access that publication.


Rob, what is the acronym? CSR?


Thank you, CSR stands for corporate social responsibility.


All right. Thank you. Do you want to let's move on. We've got some more questions that were submitted online.

Let me before we get to those, let me ask you this sort of big picture question. And the research. You talk about, you know, that there needs to be, you know, a top down, you know, approach to really move the needle. How can that be done? Versus, you know, it being a company by company basis. Someone has a relation to disability either themselves or a family member or a friend. How does that needle really move to increase, you know, the employment rate of people with disabilities when you're potentially looking at it going on business by business or company by company, if that makes sense?


Thanks for that question. This is Rob still speaking. That's a great question about how we can really move the needle forward. One of the ideas we've really garnered from this research process is that identifying a champion often includes allies and includes a broader range than just people with disabilities. It also includes family members. It often includes some sort of permanent structure and support so it's maintained and not a one off flame. Usually, this means some sort of direct allocation of resources. Very few of these companies actually had a specific person in charge of disability inclusion, although some did, but almost all of them had some sort of static resource, even if it's a small budget for an employee group, to actually maintain their meetings and actually continue these ongoing conversations.

To really move the needle, I think these groups cannot exist just within their organization. There was really kind of strived across all the interviewees that, these groups grow when businesses talk to each other.

Coming back to the question on community of practice, I think it's essential that disability advocacy groups as well as governments get involved with this process, actually getting the buy in from businesses themselves is a huge starting point. Often, it takes that sort of deep personal connection, whether it's one's own identity or their family to really move it forward, but we hope that can be an example of leadership in the future.


Great. Thank you for that, Robert. Just a follow up question, I think I'm accurate when the research you talked about, you know, corporations with, I think you said, 5,000 or more employees, and I think over half of the workforce, you know, are employed by small employers, which small business administration defines as employees with 500 or fewer employees.

Any thoughts on taking, you know, what you've learned from this, looking at larger corporations, and what they're doing, and what can be done there? And how do we, you know, the collective we, how does that information get to smaller employer smaller employers that are actually employing more people on a percentage basis across the country?


Great question. The focus point of our study was what we might consider large businesses, even though there's a huge range of what large business mean. It can be anything ranging from 5,000 to 500,000 employees, although we didn't get to any that big. We did ask questions, what happened when you're first starting off? One of the key take aways I would say is identify employee resource groups within the big business groups can mean a lot of things, especially for those medium to small sized groups.

Often times employee resource groups can be more kind of informal settings those that really welcome some sort of partnerships and employee to employee dialogue, it might be a kind of "safe space" to actually have those conversations about companies need to do.

What's really neat about some of the businesses we've identified, as they've become kind of leaders in disability inclusive efforts, these employee resource groups are increasingly becoming more public in their engagement. They speak to each other and can actually be great resources to speak to some of the smaller businesses about how they've been included within their work space, especially if some of those small businesses you're talking about, Peter, might not have the resources for a formal employee group or may not even have multiple employees. So tapping into what already exists, especially those existing communities of practices, might be a more relevant starting point.


Excellent. Thanks again for that, Rob.

Curious about the you know, your research. We know that the largest generation in U.S. industry, the Baby Boom generation, and folks are retiring from that generation. There was a slowdown in people from that age group retiring back in the early 2000s, when we had the economic slowdown, but folks are beginning to retire again. Was there any recognition, acknowledgment, that the pool of people with disabilities, the nearly 70% of people with disabilities that are not employed, what role that group can play in filling the void as Baby Boomers retire in larger numbers? Sort of, I guess, that would be the business case for recruiting, attracting, and keeping employees, people with disabilities?


Yes. This is Sarah. There was discussion by the people we spoke to. There's a recognition that the workforce is changing and the workforce that is coming through to replace some of the retiring workforce and the aging workforce isn't there on the same levels that companies are used to seeing. So looking towards people with disabilities, given there's such a high percentage of people with disabilities that are unemployed that want to be employed, that have the qualifications to be employed, that could, with training, have additional qualifications to also be employed, are ready to work, and want to work, and so there's a recognition. The companies we spoke to, because we really want to work on disability inclusion efforts, they're starting to look at people with disabilities as an untapped source of potential recruiting, hiring, and also retaining, people with disabilities in the workforce.

So I do think that this is, as you said, Peter, this is the business case, in that you have a whole population that is ready and willing to work, and, you know, we can create the environment in which they can be successful.


Great. Thanks.

And sort of to follow up on that, as you mentioned at the beginning, we're rapidly approaching the 30th anniversary of the signing of the ADA. And the employment numbers are roughly the same as they were 30 years ago. And some may look at that as the ADA has been a failure in the employment context. As we know, today that the ADA is only one piece to the employment puzzle. There are lots of other things that go into employment: Education and volunteer and those first job opportunities for people with disabilities.

So in your research, or just thoughts in general, about looking at the ADA as a law that requires equal opportunity, is there a recognition amongst or through your research that the ADA is, you know, a compliance piece? A federal compliance law? And that, really, the reel need to increase the number of employees with disabilities takes, you know, policy development and some of that peer to peer, business to business discussion, such as Disability: IN?


Thanks, Peter. That's a good question. More broadly, outside of on our research, I do think there's a perception, what employment research in general has shown, there's a perception by employees to see ADA not all employees, but many employees to see ADA as compliance. So doing the minimal level of the law. I do also, at the same time, see through the research that there is this commitment to the broader spirit of the ADA, through this piece around equality of opportunity and moving beyond the law to true and inclusive practices.

In terms of our research, interestingly, very few people actually spoke about the context of the ADA as being something that was a driving point to either make change, cultural, or systemic change, or compliance change, or not making cultural or systemic or compliance change.


This is Rob. I'd like to add at this time about that in terms of the interviewees' responses. It is very interesting to hear that even though very few of the participants specifically mentioned the ADA, many of the goals of the ADA, such as full participation and equal opportunity were kind of the key ideas, as well as phrases, that were echoed throughout all of the participants. In one of our other research projects, we looked at the impact of the ADA and actually creating a culture of compliance, we found oftentimes attitudinal change requires more than just information about the law, but actually has to include more of the social goals and the cultural impact, as well as the story about the ADA as a cornerstone of civil rights legislation, and its connection to disability advocacy, as well as people with disabilities and their claiming of rights.

So I think it's really interesting to see in our interviewees who are picking up some of the larger social goals of the ADA, rather than just the issues of compliance, which I think really speaks to how we might move forward, moving beyond a culture of compliance for the 30th anniversary.

We've had a number of questions come in from the web. Even though we might not have a chance to get to all of them, we encourage you, especially those of you asking for very practical resources, we're happy to give some referrals. Including some people asked for tools for looking at disability at the time yet, as well as small workplace inclusive options.

A number of resources are available through the Great Lakes ADA Center online. One of the other services we offer through the toll free hotline is connections to other groups as needed.

Another question that came in on the web recently as asking about did CSR reports, the corporate social responsibility reports, and asking is it public information which businesses have tools like community of practices, employee resource groups, and senior leadership buy in. Oftentimes, the reports will advocate these ideas of strategies, we found very rarely did the CSR have these tools.

Employee resource groups were the one exception. Those frequently are mentioned as a strategy for both CSR, but very rarely was it gone into depth about what that group looked like.

Oftentimes it was more in a check list item related to other groups, employee affinity groups that might be available.



Just real quick, Rob. Also for folks outside the Great Lakes region, you can reach your region ADA Center and the information such as questions regarding small business and they can provide you information about the small business tax credit that can assist with employee accommodations, as well as, you know, assuring the fact that communication with customers with disabilities. So again, adata.org is where you can find your regional ADA Center.

Sorry, go ahead. Rob.


Thank you for sharing more about that, Peter. Two headed monster, not just research, but also practice.

Another question: Do you have examples of training and approaches that incorporate disability into disability inclusion training? Specifically racial training? The participant online is working with organizations that want to address it all at once. I think it's a really innovative way of looking at disability and actually embedding it into the category of diversity. The short answer, we don't have a great answer ourselves. I think we really would refer back to the business to business type of links and community of practice. Disability: IN would be a great starting point, thinking about the national level and locate the trainings as well as the trainers. There are a lot of great trainers out there that actually standardized approaches, and I don't think we're very familiar with them, honestly. Thank you for those questions


Lovely, let's check real quick and see if we have questions on the telephone, this time.


There are no further questions at this time.


Great. Rob and Sarah and Courtney, through the research, is there any particular industry that is doing a better job? Or just in your general, employment with people with disabilities, is there one industry? Health care? Hospitality? That may be doing better than others?


That's a really question, Peter. I don't really think we could say one is doing a better job than another. One of the most prominent was definitely health care, because I think it might be easiest so see that clear link between maybe the patient experience as well as the employee experience, and it's often easy to kind of see those similarities and building a more inclusive and accessible environment. Most of our sample was really representative of the Great Lakes region, as well as a lot of the businesses that call Great Lakes home, especially related to various financial services, and insurance. A lot of those types of industries tend to be more prevalent within the Great Lakes.

Besides the health care, I don't think we can really say that one group is leading the pathway in terms of industries.


Thanks, Rob. And there was a question that came in about, you know, is there a federal requirement for employers to report the number of percentages of employees with disabilities. There's nothing for private employers under the ADA or any other federal law. For federal contractors and federal subcontractors, there are rules under through the U.S. Department of Labor that apply. There are targeted hiring rates for federal contractors and subcontractors of 7%, for individuals with disabilities.

But in the private sector, there's no requirement for reporting that data.

A question about the, we talked about the top down, you know, approach.

Do you have any examples or thoughts on where is where disability diversity where it started somewhere down the chain? Where a mid manager or supervisor or even an employee was able to work that message, the opposite, you know, direction, within the company or corporation?


Yeah. I guess the question is kind of was it sometimes more from the grassroots or from the middle man instead of from that top down? even though all these groups explained that continued success and longevity really needed that top level buy in. Pretty much all these groups usually started with just one person, sometimes two people, coming together. Usually a person with a disability themselves or a person who is a parent of a child with a disability, and oftentimes it started with just one person bringing it as an idea, especially if they had some sort of report in hand. A lot of people mentioned using the resources of Disability:IN as a starting point just to approach top level management. But even all these large organizations started with one individual champion.

As we talked about for sustainable, that person can't do it all. And luckily each of these groups mentioned that it became a larger community. Especially when you have top level comes in and actually disclosing and talking about their relationship to disability. It can be a great way to spreading that culture of inclusion throughout the organization. Sarah is going to talk a little bit about that more.


Thanks, Rob. Also linking to a question that came through. Which said some benefits of self-identification efforts, and how does that help? And to link what Rob was saying back to the question, Peter, what is different, particularly when you see employee resource groups in organizations is that for disability it doesn't just include the diversity identity that's the focus. It also includes parents, siblings, allies, as well as people with disabilities themselves. That's I think the richness of disability in the workplace, where it doesn't have to be one person with a disability being the champion. The champion can actually come from different areas and different sources.

But quickly, and this is what our participants in the interview talked about, very quickly you can see this network that gets built where people have an interest in disability because they're touched by disability in some way. Whether it's personal or an ally or it's a broader part of being part of a society. When it comes to self-identification efforts, what has been shown to be successful is that when there are self-identification campaigns, where people can actually self-identify as disabled in safe environments, it builds ally ship and it builds a coalition where disability becomes a everyday part of the workplace, alongside every other category. Some disabilities don't have a choice whether to self-identify. They have visible disabilities. And even people with visible disabilities they may not identify as being disabled. And people with invisible disability may have that choice and may not want to identify. So a self-identification campaign can actually bring together a range of people with different kinds of disabilities that can work together in a coalition and when you have that senior leadership buy in and some of the organizations spoke about this, when a senior leader or even a manager, a middle level manager, identified themselves or a family member or an ally identified, then it actually helped everybody else feel supported to also identify in a safe environment.

And self-identification is also different than the process of identifying disclosing for the purpose of accommodation. Just to backtrack one part to make sure we're on the same page, self-identification is around self-identifying as a disability from a cultural perspective, to be part of a disability culture and a disability community and a disability coalition within a workplace. This is different than people who want to disclose for the purpose of receiving accommodations.

Sometimes it ends up that they're the same outcome. Someone will identify for the purpose of an accommodation and then also be part of the culture. Some people will culturally identify without the need for accommodation, but then also that might bring up, well, what else do you need? To help support you in the workplace?


Great. Thanks, Sarah. Thanks, Rob.

As you were answering there, a question popped in my head. I know you're cringing. But going back to the Baby Boomers, again, as part of the research, or just your research on the ADA and employment, how are employers working with employees from that generation that may have functional limitations that, you know, meet the definition of disability under the ADA, but they're not going to identify, you know, as being a person with a disability? And the minute you mention ADA or accommodations, they want nothing to do with that.

So it may be a different research project, but any thoughts on how employers are doing that? Because you obviously want to retain employees that have been with you a long period of time, especially if it means simply providing a larger screen or some modification or adaptation in the workplace. Any thoughts or any of that come across in your interviews?


Great question. It did in some ways. One thing, I guess I don't want people coming out of here thinking that the companies we work with are all roses. They all spoke with kind of some challenges that they faced in really promoting disability inclusion, especially with that self-identification piece.

One way that kind of organizations are promoting moving forward is really to get that senior level buy in, maybe people close to retirement actually talking about the accommodation process and talking about how they benefits from aspects of disability inclusion.

One interesting finding, even though many of the kind of senior level folks didn't necessarily openly say that they're a person with a disability, but they're willingness to actually approach these conversations is seen as a starting point.

One of the challenges that a number of our individuals specifically talked about was related to mental health conditions. Which tends to be one of those groups that is not necessarily being identified well with a lot of self-identification campaigns. It's important to think when we're talking about disability, it's a really broad range of people receiving different types of supports. I think the next step and one of the challenges is to think about how we might be more inclusive of some of those folks on the margins.




I wanted to add onto that.


Go ahead, Courtney.


This is Courtney. Looking at some of the other literature in the background, when organizations have some of the strategies that we talked about, such as accommodations, when you have a set of accommodation practices, it doesn't only apply to people who identify as having a disability. So thinking about some of those strategies that Rob talked about, at the beginning of our presentation, with flexible management, et cetera, that can be applied to a much broader group of employees that I think addresses some of the ideas that you were suggesting with the aging workforce.


Yeah. Great point, Courtney. And employers could benefit from policies that every request for doing something differently isn't necessarily treated as an ADA and request for documentation. You know? Lots of people want different types of chairs. You know? That makes a person more comfortable, and it makes them more productive, by all means, provide it to them. Or if someone needs a different type of computer or a bigger screen or two screens, maybe the employer just provides it to the employee.

We're almost at the bottom of the hour. Last question, some of our participants are from the disability community, advocates, service providers. How can folks from the disability community, disability advocates, use this information from working from the other side, to get businesses to drive, you know, employment of people with disabilities within their communities?


I think one thing, first off, remember that all people are consumers. And businesses really that are doing well are mindful that oftentimes they often look certain groups that are consumers. They want to make really good practices not just internally to their organizations, but in terms of any product, and I say that term loosely, any product, that they're delivering, whether it be health care,financial services, accounting services, whether it's a shop selling goods, online businesses, as well.


Second point, this is Rob, really remember some of the key points of what are making these businesses thrive. Actually looking at making the business for disability inclusion. None of these businesses are working with service providers as a matter of the charity or pity. It's really about doing the right thing to promote inclusive business practices.

So actually, when service providers can really try and make that case of how individuals fit within the broader goals of an untapped market, I think that's where service providers can really start making that better connection to the business community.


All right. Excellent. We are near the bottom of the hour and near our stop time. So I want to thank you Sarah, Rob, and Courtney for joining us today, and not just for the 90 plus minutes they spent with us today, but the time in putting together their presentation. We truly appreciate that. I want to remind folks that, again, contact information for Rob, Sarah and Courtney, Rob's contact information is in the handout information that will be posted with the archive. Approximately 48 hours after today's session.

That information will be made available.

For some of those resources we were talking about, you can reach your region ADA Center, 800 949 4332. Or visit the national network website, adata.org, and find your regional ADA Center.

As a reminder, our next ADA audio conference session will be coming up on Tuesday, March 17th we're looking at accessible polling facilities in the ADA.

So join us as Julie Brinkoff, the codirector of the Great Plains ADA Center, will be on that session.

You can find a full description of that session and register for that by using the ada-audio.org website. As a reminder, today's session has been recorded. The audio archive along with the materials will be available and edited transcript of today's session will be available in approximately three week's time.

So again, thanks to our presenters and most of all thanks to all of you for joining us today. I encourage you to complete the evaluations for today's session. That helps us plan future sessions and identify the topics and information that you want to see us present in the future.

So thanks, again, everyone, for joining us. Enjoy the remainder of your Tuesday. And good day.


This document is based on live transcription.
Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART), captioning, and/or live transcription are provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.