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The session begins with a discussion of the broad range of disabilities found in the workplace and an outline of legal protections for people with disabilities. Next it discusses recent federal initiatives to increase hiring for people with disabilities and resources available to employers. This section is a broad overview of initial information covered in the disability employment webinar, which would be a companion to this webinar.

Building on this overview, the webinar discusses aspects of company practice that are important to consider to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for people with disabilities. This includes organization physical environment, IT and website accessibility, and organization culture. For organizations with regular interaction with customers, company practices to make the business accessible to consumers with disabilities are also discussed.

Next, the structure of HR and its disability practices are discussed. The webinar highlights the importance of hiring staff with specific expertise in disability and creating employment systems that address disability through hiring, employment and promotion practices. The interface between HR and managers in supporting accommodations and inclusive work teams is also discussed.

The final section focuses on diversity and inclusion initiatives related to disability. Suggestions for pre-initiative development activities to understand employees understanding of disability and the experience of existing employees with disabilities are outlined. Examples of issues that limit inclusion in workplaces are discussed.

Proactive, positive initiatives to enhance employee understanding of disability and effective ways to create an inclusive environment for both employees and customers are described. The session highlights that disability inclusion involves much more than just language and physically welcoming environments but an emphasis on universal design and practices to foster opportunity for all employees.

Why you should Attend

While companies increasingly focus on diversity, disability is routinely left out of diversity trainings and other initiatives. Overlooking disability both limits organization's ability to create a truly inclusive environment and limits opportunities to reach an increasing customer base. Ignoring disability also potentially increases legal exposure or social sanction. Consider:

  • Since 2014 section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires federal contractors and subcontractors to develop hiring goals of 7% people with disabilities on staff in each job group. Tax credits and help paying for accommodations are available
  • As the workforce ages, more employees develop disabilities and are subject to protections from employment discrimination under the ADA, which requires reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities
  • An increasing number of younger employees were diagnosed with disabilities in school and now expect accommodations and supports similar to what they received throughout their education
  • Research shows that customers are increasingly likely to support businesses that value diversity in all forms, including disability. Customer service that pays attention to disability is likely to draw more customers and keep old ones.
    Customers support organizations with strong corporate responsibility, including hiring people with disabilities and otherwise making their businesses accessible
  • Contractors and government look for organizations that support people with disabilities in order to meet their requirements under section 503.


Drawing on recent research on diversity initiatives and Dr. Schneider's extensive background in diversity and inclusion, this webinar provides an overview of the legal obligations related to disability and concrete suggestions to enhance disability and inclusion through equal treatment of disability in HR practices and diversity initiatives.

Areas Covered in the Session

  • Overview
    • What do we mean by disability and why is it important to pay attention to disability
    • Recent research on employee diversity and inclusion programs
  • Legal and Federal Regulation Overview
    • Understanding the breadth of ADA accommodations related to services
    • Websites and IT: 504 and 508 compliance
    • Section 503: What it is, who it applies to, and why its good for your business
    • Resources and tax credits
  • HR and MR/Management Interface
    • The importance of dedicated staff with disability expertise in HR
    • Disability and the hiring, retention and promotion process
    • Accommodations and working with managers to create a welcoming, inclusive environment where employees with disability can thrive and interact as equals
  • Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives for Disability
    • Understanding the existing environment: company practices, environment, and culture
    • Finding out how your employees understand disability and think of co-workers with disabilities
    • Basics of universal design and flexible workplace strategies
    • Strategies to help employees understand disability and create a welcoming, inclusive environment

Who Will Benefit

  • CEO
  • HR
  • Managers
  • Diversity Initiative Staff

Speaker Profile

Dr. Jo Anne Schneider is an applied social scientist with over 30 years experience working with government, organizations, businesses and communities to develop innovative, evidence based model programs, policies, evaluations, continuous process improvement systems, and research on a wide range of community development and improvement, intergroup relations, education, workforce development, employment, human services, housing, and health topics.

Her expertise in disability combines research, policy analysis, development of model programs/policies, and consulting with colleges/universities, agencies, businesses and government. She has worked on disability issues since 2008, including projects for Source America, DDA/DORS, a legislatively mandated evaluation for MSDE, serving as a Commissioner for Baltimore County Commission on Disabilities, and various organizational consulting projects. She is also International Code Council (ICC) Certified Accessibility Inspector/Plans Examiner.