Thursday, November 5, 2009

Disabled Workers; Technology Closes the Gap

Excerpted from Business Week Diversity October 2, 2009, 1:18PM EST

By Ralph Braun*

Let's start with a top worry for any company: the bottom line. Studies by Sears and DuPont have shown that hiring workers with disabilities does not translate into higher accommodation costs, such as adapting office space or equipment. As studies by the President's Job Accommodation Network committee have shown, most workers with disabilities require no special accommodations. Among those who do, 15% cost the employer nothing. A little more than half of the workplace modifications cost $500 or less, 12% cost from $501 to $1,000, and only 22% exceeded $1,000.

Given that the average employer spends $2,683.20 annually per employee on retirement plans (calculated for a full-time employee), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of accommodating special needs is negligible. Additionally, technologies that are commonplace today—such as the Internet and voice-recognition software—are eliminating many of the remaining obstacles for workers with disabilities.

According to the Labor Dept.'s survey, employers also expressed concern that hiring people with disabilities would increase worker-compensation rates or the use of sick time. Wrong again. A study conducted by DuPont showed that absentee rates are virtually equal between employees with and without disabilities. As for workers' compensation, insurance providers calculate premiums based on the relative job hazards and the likelihood of an accident. Disabilities among workers are not a factor in insurers' formulas, nor should they be: According to the study, the safety records of both groups (with and without disabilities) were identical.

*Ralph Braun is CEO of BraunAbility in Winamac, Ind.

posted by AtWork! at


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home