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Few Companies Hire Disabled, Survey Says

October 6 2010 | by

A new survey sponsored by Kessler Foundation and National Organization on Disability finds that although corporations recognize that hiring employees with disabilities is important, most are hiring very few of these job seekers and few are proactively making efforts to improve the employment environment. These results, from the Kessler Foundation/National Organization on Disability 2010 Survey of Employment of Americans with Disabilities conducted by Harris Interactive, are especially important given the focus on employment by media and government and with October recognized as National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Data released in July 2010 from an earlier study, the Kessler Foundation/NOD Survey of Americans with Disabilities, found that little progress has been made in closing the employment gap between people with and without disabilities since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. In fact, only 21 percent of people with disabilities, ages 18 to 64, reported that they are working either full or part-time, compared to 59 percent of people without disabilities.

From this latest survey, although 70 percent of corporations polled have diversity policies or programs in place, only two-thirds of those with programs include disability as a component. Only 18 percent of companies offer an education program aimed at integrating people with disabilities into the workplace. The low figures are particularly notable given that a majority of employers perceive the costs of hiring a person with a disability to be the same as hiring a person without a disability (62 percent).

“This new survey reveals that most employers are not aware of the unique contributions that workers with disabilities can make and do little to recruit them. The shockingly high unemployment rate among people with disabilities suggests that employers seeking dependable workers have a rich and ready talent pool of workers from which to draw,” said NOD President Carol Glazer.

This marks the third effort since 1986 to determine the current attitudes of corporate employers toward employees with disabilities. Kessler, NOD, and Harris Interactive designed this survey and developed the questions that provide insight into the employment environment for people with disabilities. The findings help explain why such a large gap exists between people with and without disabilities.

Among the findings:

• One in five companies (19 percent) has a specific person or department that oversees the hiring of people with disabilities. This is in contrast to 1995 when 40 percent of companies hired someone specifically for this reason.
• Only 7 percent of companies with disability programs offer a disability affinity group.
• Of the 56 percent of managers and executives who estimated what percentage of new hires in the past three years was people with disabilities, the average was 2 percent.


  • http://danglersbeads Cathy

    The corporations talk the talk but DON’T walk the walk! I am sick of seeing requirements for a job that are obviously discriminatory in a job listing with AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER at the end of it. Just because you say so does not make it so. An example for an education job, county job or state job – requiring a person get or have a CPR certificate. The Red Cross will not give a person a CPR certificate unless they can get on the floor to do CPR no matter how many classes you attend. Thus the requirement for a person to get this certificate, if they are hired, automatically leaves some disabled people out of the job pool. Or how about requiring driving for a receptionist job. Or lifting 30-40 pounds for a typist job. I’ve stopped banging my head against this GLASS doorway. The way I sleep at night is by realizing if you put those requirements in job listings, I wouldn’t want to work for you anyway. You don’t deserve me as a hardworking, loyal employee! I put in a lot of full-time hours for 28 years as a disabled employee and I don’t think any of my 2 employers regretted having me on their team.

  • admin

    Thanks Cathy. Your comments are straight-on. A lot of companies just put EOE to toe the line, but really aren’t interested in diversifying their workforce or gaining the unique perspectives and innovative ideas that the disability population can bring to their workforce and their marketplace. Perhaps you would like to write a blog post for abledbody telling readers how you’ve adapted and succeeded in your jobs?
    - Suzanne

  • Pingback: New Survey On Employment of Americans With Disabilities | Michael Janger's Blog

  • Jon

    disabilitytraining.comThis is truly problematic, and it is not an isolated problem. Apparantly the Federal Goverment can’t even retain and advance workers with disabilities:

  • Linda

    I have worked with the vocational rehab and disability government agencies in my search for a job as a disabled person. It is hard to expect non-federal workplaces to put ADA laws and requirements into effect when federal workplaces don’t even adhere to them. Having personally experienced the LACK of personnel in place (SPC, etc.) as hiring agents for the disabled at such places as the Military, Department of Commerce, Homeland Security…etc., etc., I have faced the hard facts that for all their self-generated celebration dinners, awards, and so much more I constantly see on the news, they are NOT the leaders in disabled employment. Although the advertised jobs on USAJOBS and such include application instructions for the disabled, I have not found ONE agency that has that designated person with whom you are to contact directly unless you are a veteran. Even the current Census jobs that were available did not allow you to apply as disabled and had NO policy in place for accomodations for disabled persons! Getting hired by the federal government as a disabled person seems to be the first hurdle. Retainment and advancement statistics seem impossible when disabled persons are not on the payroll to begin with. Advocates are seriously needed to help enforce federal agencies to adhere to ADA laws and executive orders and hiring directives before any changes will take place. Even VR personnel have NO authority or intervention methods to assist a disabled job applicant when applying for a federal position. This is an extreme case of just talking the talk without truly walking the walk. And the millions upon millions of tax dollars spent with such miniscule results in the advocation/enforcement of hiring the disabled is a major waste.

  • Erfriedman

    how do find out whether a company has disabled employees? How can you find out if these employees were let go when the disability became evident, ie. MS, Lupus etc.?

  • Suzanne Robitaille

    It’s not really plausible to think this way. Employees might not disclose and companies don’t keep records. This is going to change likely though, when the Office of Federal Contract Compliance begins to ask for more accurate records of hiring, retention and promotion. When someone gets fired for their disability they’re not going to admit this so this is an impossible quest. The EEOC can bring a lawsuit on the employee’s behalf but the evidence needs to be really strong and the employer will have to show how they tried to make accommodations for the employee before he or she was let go.

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