Employer Resources

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires any employer with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities, unless doing so would cause undue hardship. A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment that enables a person with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities. Below are resources to help ensure your understanding and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Reasonable Accommodations

As an employer, you can take advantage of various programs that encourage the recruitment and hiring of people with disabilities. This will also make you eligible for tax credits that help cover the cost of accommodations for employees with disabilities. While this is an excellent way to expand and enhance your business, keep in mind that you will need to comply with certain legal requirements concerning the accommodation of employees with disabilities.

The Internal Revenue Code includes several provisions aimed at making businesses more accessible to people with disabilities. The following is designed to give you general information about three of the most significant tax incentives. It is not legal advice. You should check with your accountant or tax advisor to find out whether you are eligible to take advantage of these incentives or visit the Internal Revenue Service's website, IRS for more information.

  • Disabled Access Tax Credit: Small businesses with either $1,000,000 or less in revenue or 30 or fewer full-time employees may take a tax credit of up to $5,000 annually for the cost of providing reasonable accommodations such as sign language interpreters, readers, materials in alternative format (such as Braille or large print), the purchase of adaptive equipment, the modification of existing equipment, or the removal of architectural barriers.
  • Work Opportunity Tax Credit (Internal Revenue Code Section 51):   Employers who hire certain targeted low-income groups, including individuals referred from vocational rehabilitation agencies and individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be eligible for an annual tax credit of up to $2,400 for each qualifying employee who works at least 400 hours during the tax year. Additionally, a maximum credit of $1,200 may be available for each qualifying summer youth employee.
  • Architectural/Transportation Tax Deduction (Internal Revenue Code Section 190: Barrier Removal):   This annual deduction of up to $15,000 is available to businesses of any size for the costs of removing barriers for people with disabilities, including the following: providing accessible parking spaces, ramps, and curb cuts; providing wheelchair-accessible telephones, water fountains, and restrooms; making walkways at least 48 inches wide; and making entrances accessible.

Below are a few of the most frequently consulted resources for accommodating qualified individuals with disabilities. Many other resources exist both nationally and locally, such as organizations of and for individuals with particular types of disabilities.

ASKJAN - provides lists based on specific disabilities as well as links to various other accommodation providers.

 10 federally funded regional centers to provide assistance on all aspects of the ADA.

RESNA   -- can refer individuals to projects offering technical assistance on technology-related services for individuals with disabilities.

Finding Qualified Employees with Disabilities

Many businesses say that they would like to hire qualified individuals with disabilities, but do not know where to find them. The following resources may be able to help.

Job Accommodation Network (JAN) - provides a variety of resources for employers with employees with disabilities and those seeking to hire employees with disabilities.

Employer Assistance Referral Network (EARN) - a national toll-free telephone and electronic information referral service to assist employers in locating and recruiting qualified workers with disabilities. EARN is a service of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy with additional support provided by the Social Security Administration's Office of Employment Support Programs.

Federal and State Agencies

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. Most employers with at least 15 employees are covered by EEOC laws (20 employees in age discrimination cases). Most labor unions and employment agencies are also covered. The laws apply to all types of work situations, including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits.

ODEP, the  Office of Disability Employment Policy, is the only non-regulatory federal agency that promotes policies and coordinates with employers and all levels of government to increase workplace success for people with disabilities.

Human Rights Commission enforces the Rhode Island antidiscrimination laws in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodations, credit and delivery of services.  Through impartial investigation, formal and informal resolution efforts, predetermination conferences and administrative hearings, the Commission seeks to ensure due process for both complainants (charging parties) and respondents (those against whom charges are filed), to provide redress for victims of discrimination, and to properly dismiss cases against businesses and individual respondents when charges of discrimination lack evidentiary support.