What is Disability Inclusion?

Disability inclusion is about more than hiring people with disabilities. It involves creating a workplace where employees with disabilities are valued for their strengths and have the same opportunities to succeed, to grow professionally, to be compensated fairly, and to advance. True inclusion is about embracing difference.

Why Disability Inclusion?

Hiring people with disabilities is good for people—and good for companies. Inclusive, accessible, flexible workplaces and policies are the key to helping everyone work better. Businesses with strong disability inclusion programs have better access to talent, so they can find the right person for the right job. They have better employee retention. And they have the tools they need to help their employees thrive.

People with disabilities represent a significant talent pool

  • 1 in 4 adults has some type of disability
  • People with disabilities are employed at a much lower rate than their peers
  • The vast majority of people with disabilities are striving to work

As an aging workforce retires and unemployment reaches record lows, employers are under pressure to identify new talent pools. People with disabilities make up a vast labor source that employers often overlook.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four American adults has some type of disability.[1] In the US alone, there are over 42 million people with disabilities.[2] And a recent study by the Kessler Foundation found that more than 68% of people with disabilities are striving to work.[3]

Despite wanting to work, people with disabilities are employed at a much lower rate than their peers. In 2018, only 33% of working-age Americans with disabilities participated in the workforce, as compared to almost 77% of Americans without a disability.[4] Indeed, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is more than twice the rate for those with no disability.[5] By tapping into this talent pool, employers can gain access to over 10 million working-age people.[6]

Not only are people with disabilities less likely to be employed, but this is true across all age groups and all educational levels.[7] This means there are capable employees with disabilities who can most likely perform any role in your company, from entry-level to upper management. Can your company afford to ignore the largest untapped labor source in the U.S.?

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/infographic-disability-impacts-all.html.

[2] Houtenville, A., & Boege, S. (2019). Annual Report on People with Disabilities in America: 2018. Durham, NH: University of New Hampshire, Institute on Disability.

[3] https://kesslerfoundation.org/kfsurvey15

[4] https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/disabl.pdf

[5] Ibid.

[6] Accenture, “Getting to Equal 2018: The Disability Inclusion Advantage.”

[7] https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/disabl.pdf

Inclusion Stories

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Hire a Workplace Initiative expert to speak to your leadership team, management, human resource professionals, or entire company. Choose from a growing menu of key disability inclusion topics, and our expert will tailor an in-person presentation for your particular audience. Current options include:

James Emmett, Lead Disability Inclusion Strategist The Business Case for Disability Inclusion Strategic Sourcing of Candidates with Disabilities

Bob Cunningham, Executive Director of Learning Development Learning Disabilities in the Workplace Creating a Workplace That is Inclusive of Neurodiversity

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