How to Talk about the Cost of Accommodations with Employers

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In recent years, popular media has shared the message that disability inclusion gives employers access to a robust pool of workers who enable them to meet their business goals. From Forbes to Understood, advocates are spreading the word that including people with disabilities is good for employers’ bottom lines.

And yet, although employers generally have a positive attitude toward hiring people with disabilities, they seem to become more reluctant when pressed about hiring. (Phillips et. al., 2016). Importantly, a recent study revealed that employer’s negative attitudes and misperceptions of people with disabilities ability to work is an outgrowth of their lack of knowledge on disability-related legislations and accommodations. (Fraser, 2011).

Employer Engagement and Support in Vocational Rehabilitation

Vocational rehabilitation professionals are uniquely qualified to engage with employers to talk knowledgeably and openly about the costs and benefits of providing accommodations. Doing so is crucial to supporting people with disabilities in achieving and maintaining quality employment. Vocational rehabilitation professionals can help convey the benefits of providing accommodations using language employers will understand and value.

The Cost and Benefits of Accommodations

Recent research by TACQE’s partner Autism Workforce provides insights into the costs and benefits for employers who provide accommodations to people with disabilities:

Research tells us that 49% of accommodations cost nothing, yet employers know the cost of accommodations could go beyond the accommodation itself.
Companies will most likely need to make some adjustments to the hiring, onboarding, and training processes to successfully hire and keep an individual with autism employed. Autism Workforce proved there is a solid return on investment for employers’ extra effort on the front end in the form of lower turnover and higher productivity.

Although most employers who made accommodations found the cost to be $500 or less, it does not reflect most successful programs where there is a profound change in the business.
The cost of accommodations to employers will likely be more than $500, and it will not be reflected as a line-item on the budget (e.g., manager training, etc.). Providing accommodations is investment that is “paid back” many times over through reduced turnover, increased productivity, and enhanced corporate culture.

Accommodation-related services may be “free” but they require commitment from the employer.
While it is true and can be a great selling point, saying accommodation-related services are "free" can mislead the business decision maker. To successfully implement an inclusive hiring program, employers need to understand the commitment and the opportunity. This is not "plug-and-play," this is "return on investment." With this approach, employers may start with just one hire, but the success will lead to many, many more throughout the company.

Source: 3 Statements That Can Mislead and Hold Back Autism Employment – Factsheet

How Vocational Rehabilitation Professionals Can Help

As a rehabilitation professional, you are uniquely qualified to engage with and support employers to include people with disabilities in their workforce. We encourage you to:

  • Reach out to employers to talk about their business needs.
  • Share information about the talent pool available from people with disabilities.
  • Ask questions and provide realistic information around concerns related to the costs and benefits of providing accommodations to people with disabilities.

Offer consultation and support on identifying and implementing appropriate accommodations.

Recommended Resources from TACQE and Partners

Get started with these resources on job accommodations for people with disabilities.

On-Demand Training


More Job Accommodation Resources from TACQE
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