Before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990, employers were not required to accommodate qualified job applicants who were disabled.
But that’s no longer the case. Thanks to the ADA, which prohibits discrimination in the workplace, over 29 million people with disabilities are employed in offices and businesses all across the United States, fulfilling their potential in a wide variety of occupations.
The benefits flow both ways: People with disabilities gain dignity and independence, and businesses gain dedicated, reliable employees.
Gigi Mohan, a personnel coordinator for Wal-Mart Stores, can attest to that. She mentions Anis Iqbal, who works at a Wal-Mart branch, as an example of why it makes sense to hire the disabled: “He’s just like any other employee I would have in this building. He’s capable of doing everything.”
And business owners are learning that customers “value that business more in their market if they actually have an integrated workforce that includes people with disabilities,” says Kenan Aden, executive vice president of MVLE, a nonprofit organization that helps people with disabilities find jobs.
“The return on investment for a business is that they see that these employees are not just hardworking, but extremely effective,” Aden adds.
By helping people with disabilities become full participants in the life of their communities, the ADA also helps U.S. society become better, more just and more democratic — and, say employers, more prosperous too.