Businesses looking to maximize their bottom line and expand their pool of qualified workers have recognized that individuals with disabilities represent a growing segment of their customer base as well as a pool of skilled workers.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was established to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities by establishing physical and policy accessibility standards. Complying can be confusing and costly if a business is unaware of the requirements or the available resources. New regulations, as of March 15, 2011, are now in effect and can be viewed at the ADA website.
One of the best sources of information is the ADA Business Connection, which provides access to publications, practical tips, and strategies for marketing to disabled customers.
The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) developed and maintains the Texas Accessibility Standards. A copy of the Texas Accessibility Standards can be downloaded from the TDLR website. The TDLR also administers the Texas Architectural Barriers Act, which requires all construction documents for projects with an estimated construction cost of $50,000 or more to be reviewed for compliance to the Texas Accessibility Standards. TDLR also offers training to assist businesses in gaining a better understanding of Texas and national ADA requirements.
The Southwest ADA Center is the Southwest’s leading resource on the Americans with Disabilities Act and related disability rights laws. The Center is part of the ADA National Network funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) of the Department of Education.
The Southwest ADA Center serves a wide range of audiences who are interested in or impacted by these laws, including employers, businesses, government agencies, schools and people with disabilities. Expert staff members are available to provide training and publications and to respond to your inquiries via the toll free hotline 800-949-4232.
A local resource available to employers regarding hiring and employing individuals with disabilities is Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Services (formerly known as DARS). VR staff work with employers to understand their business needs and provide customized services. They help employers fill open positions with qualified job seekers with disabilities, assess workplaces, job descriptions, recruitment and application processes to remove barriers, and provide training and accommodation assistance. There is no fee for their services.
VR staff are conveniently located in the same facilities as our Workforce Solutions offices in Abilene (500 Chestnut, 10th floor) and Brownwood (2202 Highway 377 S) and can be reached by phone at 325-795-4200.
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is the leading source of free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues. Working toward practical solutions that benefit both employer and employee, JAN helps people with disabilities enhance their employability, and shows employers how to capitalize on the value and talent that people with disabilities add to the workplace.