National Organization on Disability Announces Winners of 2017 Leading Disability Employer Seal

ARLINGTON, VA (September 12, 2017) – The National Organization on Disability (NOD) today announced 45 organizations that have been selected to receive the 2017 NOD Leading Disability Employer Seal™. Now in its second year, the Seal recognizes companies that demonstrate exemplary employment practices for people with disabilities. This annual recognition is designed to applaud those organizations that are leading the way in disability hiring and to encourage additional companies to tap into the many benefits of hiring talent with disabilities, including strong consumer preference for companies that employ individuals with disabilities and greater employee engagement across the workforce.

The winning organizations were announced at NOD’s annual disability employment forum, Inclusion by Design, sponsored by PwC and hosted by The Boeing Company and are being celebrated using the campaign hashtag #NODdisabilityemployer.

“The National Organization on Disability is a labor-market leader with a mission to break down the wall that separates the abilities and aspirations of 57 million Americans from the avenues of opportunity, achievement, and fulfillment that come from productive employment,” said NOD Chairman Governor Tom Ridge. “We help America put ability to work. And so do the winners of this year’s NOD Leading Disability Employer Seal. We thank these leading companies for their commitment to building a disability inclusive workforce.”

The 2017 NOD Leading Disability Employer Seal winners are:

  • Abbott
  • Accenture
  • Aetna
  • Anthem
  • AT&T
  • Barclays
  • Bath VA Medical Center
  • The Boeing Company
  • Booz Allen Hamilton
  • Capital One
  • Colorado Springs Utilities
  • Comcast Corporation
  • Consumers Energy
  • The Dow Chemical Co.
  • DTE Energy
  • DXC Technology
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • EY
  • The Hershey Company
  • Hilton
  • Horizon BCBS of New Jersey
  • Huntington
  • JetBlue
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • KeyBank
  • KPMG
  • Lexmark International
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Marriott International
  • MassMutual
  • Merck
  • Moffitt Cancer Center
  • National Security Agency
  • New Editions Consulting
  • Nielsen
  • Northrop Grumman
  • Old National Bank
  • Pacific Gas and Electric Co.
  • Project HIRED
  • Prudential Financial
  • PwC
  • S&P Global
  • Sempra Energy
  • Syracuse VA Medical Center
  • TD Bank

The NOD Leading Disability Employer Seal is awarded based on data furnished by companies in response to NOD’s Disability Employment Tracker™, a free, confidential, online assessment and benchmarking of companies’ disability inclusion programs in the following areas:

  • Climate & Culture
  • People Practices
  • Talent Sourcing
  • Workplace & Technology
  • Strategy & Metrics

While the Tracker is confidential, organizations may opt to be considered for the NOD Leading Disability Employer Seal. Responses are scored, taking into account both disability employment practices and performance. Scoring prioritizes practices that are associated with increased disability employment outcomes over time, and companies receive additional points based on the percentage of people with disabilities in their workforce.

The Disability Employment Tracker™ was developed by NOD in partnership with the National Business and Disability Council (NBDC) at The Viscardi Center and Mercer | Sirota. Offered annually, the Tracker was introduced in 2013 with lead support from the Exelon Foundation and guidance from leading research firm J.D. Power.

To be considered for the 2018 NOD Leading Disability Employer Seal, companies must complete the Disability Employment Tracker during the qualifying window. Pre-register now for the 2018 Disability Employment Tracker, opening October 1, 2017, or sign up to be notified when the 2018 qualifying window opens.

Different Abilities Pay Off


By Nancy Henderson

Vincent Martin was 13 years old when he first suspected his vision problem was more than just near-sightedness. Still, despite the fact that he couldn’t see well, the determined young man finished high school as an all-state football player, enrolled in college and continued to drive. Then one day, at 23, he happened to catch a television commercial about retinitis pigmentosa, and suddenly his condition made sense.

“I tell people that going blind was very eye-opening for me,” says Martin, 52, an engineer and research scientist who currently is earning his doctorate in human-centered computing at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. “My past background is what led me to be able to solve problems.”

Martin, who holds undergradu­ate degrees in textile engineering technology, industrial engineer­ing technology and psychology, and a master’s in human comput­er interaction, has been a practic­ing rehabilitation engineer for more than 20 years and consults with technology and Fortune 500 companies on usability and accessibility issues. He also is a staunch disability advocate, a retired record-setting Paralympic athlete and an expert witness who explains systems and product management data on behalf of plaintiffs filing discrimination lawsuits. After he completes his doctoral program, he hopes to use his engineering skills to integrate people with disabilities into the workplace at a large corporation.

Martin credits his success to strong auditory learning skills, a “phenomenal memory” and the adaptations he has made for himself and others. Early in his career, he found a way to make his computer talk based on the synthetic speech used in the game Battlestar Galactica; he now uses built-in screen readers on his iPhone and Mac computer. “If you want to see someone that can solve problems, go find a person that’s got a disability,” Martin says. “We solve problems every day, continu­ously. It never stops.”

Research confirms that cor­porate executives and human resources managers face increas­ingly stiff competition when it comes to finding highly skilled employees. By 2024, the shortage of U.S. STEM workers will reach 1.1 million, while the demand for computer and IT positions is expected to grow 12 percent by 2024, according to the National Organization on Disability (NOD). Yet four of five working-age Americans with disabilities, many of whom possess in-demand tech­nical skills like hyper-attention to detail, are unemployed.

Advocates are quick to point out that people with disabilities often make exceptional work­ers despite public assumptions to the contrary. According to a survey published by the Institute for Corporate Productivity, 75 percent of employers ranked their employees with disabilities as “good” or “very good” on work quality, motivation, engagement, integration with co-workers, dependability and attendance.

Carol Glazer, president of the NOD, notes that employers reap unique benefits by hiring this segment of the population. “People with disabilities spend their lives ignoring discour­agement, persisting through setbacks, solving problems and finding creative routes around obstacles,” says Glazer, whose son Jacob has cognitive challeng­es. “They are a rich supply of tal­ent, ready to be tapped, at a time when talent is at a premium.”


At SAP, the world’s third-largest independent software manufacturer, 121 employees in the award-winning Autism at Work program develop software, analyze data, do graphic design and perform human resources services in nine countries. The company has seen a 94-percent retention rate for employees with autism; SAP managers plan to hire 650 employees on the spectrum by 2020.

The corporation also has implemented a number of accessibility initiatives for people with hearing, vision and mobility impairments under its Differently Abled People focus area. “The most important thing employers can do when hiring any employee is to get to know each other and understand the person sitting in front of you,” says Stefanie Nennsteil, SAP’s se­nior program HR manager. “This includes learning about how they work and looking at their abilities rather than behavior. If someone is behaving differently than you expect, maybe this is because they think differently.”

Global financial company Ernst & Young (EY) modeled its own Neurodiversity Centers of Excel­lence after the successful SAP program. In 2016, EY launched a pilot center in Philadelphia with four people on the autism spec­trum who demonstrated stellar math and technical skills. Neuro­typical account support associates (ASAs) and those with autism trained together to learn how to automate certain processes using robotics. The team members performed complex analytics, calculations and quality control functions to track documents and looked for patterns and anomalies in the data.

Nine months later, EY com­pared the work quality, efficiency and productivity of the neuro­diverse and the neurotypical employees and made a startling discovery. “The neurodiverse folks really got it much more quickly and at a deeper level,” says Lori Golden, abilities strat­egy leader at EY. “What we got that was a huge value-add was innovation [that is] driving pro­ductivity throughout the entire ASA program.”

One new hire with autism, Golden recalls, briefly looked at the computer macro training process and said to the team, “I’m not sure we’re doing this in the most logical way. Let me get back to you with some ideas on how we might be able to make it more efficient.” Two hours later, he came up with a concept to streamline the directions and document the processes in a more straightforward man­ner. “Our key trainer who has been doing this for a few years for hundreds of people took a look at his suggestions and said that he thinks we can save about half our training time if we configure in the way [the employee] suggested,” Golden says. “So now we’re doing that going forward.”

EY now employs 14 individu­als with autism at Centers of Excellence in Philadelphia and Dallas and is currently hiring for a third location in San Jose, California. The goal is to add two new centers, each employ­ing 10 to 15 employees with autism, per year through 2020.

The program has resulted in another unexpected plus, Golden says. “It’s also had a tremendous impact on our ability to develop inclusive leadership skills in our people.” Because people on the autism spectrum tend to interpret information literally and aren’t generally adept at picking up subtle nuances in manner and speech, EY supervisors have learned to avoid colloquialisms, communicate more clearly and document information in logi­cal ways. “It’s made them better managers,” says Golden, even with multicultural teams who speak different languages.

Such management training can play a critical role in the success of workers with disabili­ties. “Disability etiquette and awareness training to all staff, especially managers, leaders and recruiters, is especially useful for team members who may be unsure of how to act around a person with a disability,” Glazer says. “Such training can go a long way to remove the fear and stigma that otherwise might lead to inaction or alienation.”


In addition to on-site corporate inclusion programs, a growing number of nonprofit groups and education centers offer mentoring and specific job training to prepare STEM students with disabilities for the workforce.

The DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology) Center at the University of Washington in Seattle, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, has served 2,000 students and recently has been replicated in Japan, Malaysia and South Korea. Its signature programs, which include DO-IT Scholars, Ac­cessComputing, AccessSTEM and AccessEngineering, raise awareness among educators and help college students with disabilities break down barriers and earn their degrees in these fields through online tutoring, scholarships for leadership and technical conferences and paid internships. More than 300 high school and college students have completed the Access­Computing program and many have landed jobs as program­mers, accessible technology specialists, web developers and database managers. Graduates of AccessSTEM now work at the federal government, biology research labs and other sites.

DO-IT mentors also promote “universal design” for physical spaces and inclusive technol­ogy for college courses. It’s all about changing the mindsets of architects, corporate executives and educators, says program manager Scott Bellman. “The basic idea is rather than have someone with a disability show up and need something and ask you for it, you’ve already made the environment as accessible as you possibly can. [If you’re the employee,] you don’t even have to ask anybody for a special entrance or a large print docu­ment.”

Able-bodied students also benefit from inclusive design. Closed captioning added to technical classroom videos to accommodate someone with a severe hearing impairment may also help an English as a Second Language student or one who learns best when she views text on a screen.

One advantage of hiring people with access challenges is that they can relate to custom­ers who also have disabilities, which makes good business sense. “They can kind of inform the design process and make your products better and more usable by a wider variety of people,” Bellman says.

DO-IT graduate Sean Mari­hugh, 25, is a wheelchair user with Becker muscular dystro­phy. In his job as an escalation engineer on the corporate accessibility team at Microsoft, he provides technical support for customers with disabilities, many of whom use assisted technology. Before his partici­pation in the DO-IT program, he says, “I don’t think I knew how I should talk about my dis­ability as an asset or a strength to an employer or a professor. I learned a lot about my own needs in a work environment or in a classroom. Most impor­tantly, I learned how to advo­cate for those things, to be able to articulate clearly what I do or don’t need in a given scenario. That was hugely beneficial.”

David Ross, a rehabilita­tion research scientist at the VA Medical Center in Atlanta, makes a point to hire veterans with disabilities. Due to the precariousness of government-funded research, the rehab center often serves as a stepping stone for people with disabilities who need a push to continue their education or find more permanent jobs. Ross’s current research assistant is a veteran with a hip injury and one hand.

Giving a person with a dis­ability a chance is, Ross says, “worth it in terms of having someone who is a truly loyal employee. They are grateful for having a job because essen­tially 80 percent of the people who have a disability are out of work. They’re willing to go through all the hoops they have to go through to get the trans­portation or whatever. The folks I hire have always been on time, have always been present and they’ve always been eager to do whatever it is they need to do their job well … Anyone who has a disability who has enough gumption to go out and look for a job is someone you want to hire for sure.”


While some people with disabilities don’t require adaptive equipment or technology, others do. At Microsoft, Marihugh uses an ergonomic desk that raises up and down automatically to make room for his wheelchair. Most accommodations for people with disabilities, he says, cost little or nothing. “Getting a private office, using headphones to be able to tune out distractions, using a note-taker at a meeting, a lot of these are just easy and fairly common anyway,” he says.

Technology is also helping increase accessibility. Dima Elissa, founded VisMed3D, a Chicago-based prosthetics company that uses 3D design, visualization and printing technology to create customized solutions for patients who need a better fit. Using integrated electronic sensors and data about wear and tear, specialists at VisMed3D produce hands, limbs and other prosthetics made of durable, flexible metals and plastics that can’t be mixed or assembled with traditional manufacturing.

One polio survivor now uses a VisMed3D device to help her walk. When her previous brace maker retired, she ran into problems finding a product that wouldn’t allow her heel to pull out. Even her rehabilitation physician couldn’t come up with the right fit. “When her doctor examined to see where they went wrong, he was shocked as the brace seemed to have theoretically worked on paper,” says Elissa, who also men­tors women entrepreneurs in technology. “The problem is that the doctors did not understand the functionality and the day-to-day activities of the patient. This made making a brace for her challenging … 3D print­ing allows a much better way of analyzing and calculating the body that is more intuitive.”

Another innovative entrepre­neur, 12-year-old Alex Knoll, devised an app for people with disabilities after seeing a man in a wheelchair struggling to open the heavy front door at a sporting goods store in his hometown of Post Falls, Idaho. “I wondered if there was a resource where he could look up the different businesses around him in his area and decide which stores had auto­matic doors so he could actually access the business,” says the young inventor, who is in sev­enth grade. “So I went home to do some research, but there was nothing, so I created the idea.”

With the help of a few trusted adults, Knoll developed the Abil­ity App, which can be down­loaded for free to any mobile device, is searchable by features, disability, services and type of business, and is compatible with eye-tracking software for those without use of their voice or limbs. He also included an em­ployment opportunities section to help people with disabilities find jobs. In addition to winning several state, national and inter­national competitions, Knoll’s invention caught the attention of Ellen DeGeneres, who invited him to appear on her show and presented him with a $25,000 check to further the project.

Knoll, who hopes to officially launch the app soon, says, “I’ve always loved helping people and animals. But [what I saw at the sporting goods store] kind of opened my eyes to people with disabilities. The big goal is to get it out to as many people as I can, to help them and have it be worldwide in the end.”For people served by these innovations and programs like DO-IT, career success is much more of a reality than simply a dream. “I think a lot of employ­ers now, particularly in the STEM field, are beginning to value diversity and understand that when you have a diverse workforce, you have a diversity of ways of solving problems and a diversity of creativity and coming at things from differ­ent angles,” Bellman says. “And what we’re trying to do is add disability to that conversation.”

Read the article on the Diversity In Action website

ADA Anniversary Reminds Us There’s Much Work Still To Do

If you are fortunate enough to work in the disability field, the end of July is a special time of year. It’s when we all come together to celebrate the anniversary of the ADA – the Americans with Disabilities Act – groundbreaking civil rights legislation that opened the doors of possibility and opportunity for millions of Americans with disabilities. The door is certainly open farther today – but there’s much work to do.

What I had not realized when I first joined the National Organization on Disability 11 years ago was that the ADA anniversary was a particularly big deal here. Our honorary chairman is President George H.W. Bush, who signed the ADA into law on July 26, 1990. If you haven’t had a chance to watch the interview of President Bush, expertly conducted by our Chairman Tom Ridge in 2015 on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the ADA, please do so now. I’ll pause for you to click and watch and then return here. I don’t mind waiting!

We are so fortunate to have these two patriots and gentlemen leading NOD. What’s worthy of note about this year’s ADA anniversary is that it falls on our anniversary. The National Organization on Disability turns 35 this year. NOD built our programs and our reputation in the 1980s, as the nationwide call for a new civil rights law to ensure the full equality of Americans with disabilities began to gain momentum. Disability organizations joined in a campaign for a new disability law – which later would become the ADA. NOD enlisted prominent business leaders to help make the case that hiring people with disabilities is good for business. The CEO Council, founded in 1992 under the chairmanship of BusinessWeek President and NOD Board Member Jack Patten, sponsored a series of conferences across the country to acquaint the business community with ADA requirements. Renamed in 2016, the NOD Corporate Leadership Council is still working actively in corporate America, and includes corporate leaders such as Prudential Financial, Coca-Cola, and Kaiser Permanente.

So it’s easy to see why the ADA is part of our DNA. So, too, is research to support public policy. For many years, Washington policy-makers would rely on our Harris Surveys, conducted like clockwork every four years, examining the gaps that existed between people living with and without disabilities. These surveys measured everything from access to transportation and education to daily quality of life indicators. NOD was proud to be the source of that trusted information that helped shape legislation, including the ADA.

Thirty-five years later, NOD continues to provide those necessary insights, but in a way that is even more closely connected with the #1 challenge facing people with disabilities: employment. Just recently we released the results of the 2017 Disability Employment Tracker™. The Tracker is a free and confidential annual survey measuring companies’ disability inclusion policies and practices to discover how businesses are progressing in their disability inclusion journey. We were thrilled that this year more than 175 companies participated. Together, they employ over 2.4 million workers – so the Tracker really gives us some valuable, real-time data on how well (or not so well) companies are doing right now hiring people with disabilities.

The Tracker tells us certain industries are outperforming others in adopting disability including best practices. For instance, the pharma/biotech (69%) and transportation/utilities (68%) sectors’ overall adoption rates are outpacing manufacturers (56%) and consumer products and retail (46%). What we also know is that progress is slow. Too slow. The most important disability inclusion driver is getting and keeping talent. Yet on average, the workforce representation of people with disabilities is below target across all companies at just 3.2%. The U.S. Labor Department has set a 7% target for companies that do business with Uncle Sam.

The day President Bush signed the ADA on the lawn of the White House 27 years ago, he said companies hold the key to unlocking the true potential of the ADA. We are proud to partner with companies who understand that people with disabilities are often their best workers, the ones who imagine, persevere, overcome challenges and exceed expectations. Yet strangely, major segments of corporate America continue to overlook a pool of available employees who excel in just these ways. People with disabilities spend our lives ignoring discouragement, persisting through setback, solving problems and finding creative routes around obstacles. We are a rich supply of talent, ready to be tapped, at a time when talent is at a premium.

So while this is a time of year to celebrate, it’s also a time for a gut check. We need to do better. And those dark clouds on the horizon that foreshadow massive cuts to Medicaid are not helping. Such cuts would have enormously negative impacts to employment for people with disabilities, who rely on Medicaid for transportation and other critical employment services. Let’s take time to celebrate the ADA anniversary while doubling down on our efforts to unlock that potential. I assure you that my colleagues at NOD are standing by eager to help.

Americans with Disabilities Still Can’t Land Jobs

July 26, 2017, 6:00 AM By Aimee Picchi

Before the Americans with Disabilities Act, the country was a very different place for people with disabilities, who had to navigate hurdles such as inaccessible public buildings. Yet when it comes to the workforce, the hurdles may not look much different than they did 27 years ago.

The share of adults with disabilities who are working by some measures hasn’t improved since the ADA was passed in July 1990. When the law was signed, about half of disabled Americans were employed, a share that declined to 41 percent by 2010, according to Census data.

Ironically, some economists suggest the ADA may have made it less likely for employers to hire people with disabilities because of the costs they might incur for providing accommodations. Yet disability advocates point out that Americans with disabilities face a host of complex issues such as stigmas, typically lower education rates and higher rates of poverty, which add to the difficulties of finding a job while disabled.

“My organization has been collecting data on disability going back to the mid-1980s when we did our first so-called gap survey, which reports on quality of life for people with and without disabilities and looks at the gaps,” said Carol Glazer, president of the National Organization on Disability. “A number of gaps have been closing. Unemployment, unfortunately, is one thing that hasn’t improved appreciably since we started measuring.”

The ADA was a civil rights law that improved physical access to schools, public spaces and other buildings, while also guaranteeing legal protections, noted Philip Kahn-Pauli, the policy and practices director of RespectAbility, a nonprofit that works to advance opportunities for people with disabilities.

He added, “What the law did not do was to remove attitudinal barriers. You can make explicit discrimination illegal, but you can’t change people’s hearts and minds.”

Unconscious bias may play a role, as Rutgers University researchers found in a field experiment when they sent out job applications for more than 6,000 fictional accounting positions. Two-thirds of the applicants disclosed their disabilities – a spinal cord injury or Asperger’s Syndrome – in their cover letters, while one-third didn’t mention a disability. While those disabilities wouldn’t interfere with the accounting work and the applicants were otherwise equally qualified, the applicants with disabilities received 26 percent fewer responses from employers.

Aside from lower employment rates, workers with disabilities also typically earn less, which Kahn-Pauli noted is linked to educational attainment for disabled people. About 16 percent of adults with a disability have earned a college degree, or roughly half the rate of those without disabilities. Higher education levels are linked with higher earnings.

“Despite significant improvements in the access to education, people with disabilities still face barriers to receiving the quality education that they need to succeed in the workforce,” Kahn-Pauli said. “Nationally, only 65 percent of students with disabilities graduate high school each year compared to 86 percent of student without disabilities.”

When it comes to the workforce, pushes for greater diversity often overlook disabilities. Part of the issue may be stigma, but another factor is the complexity of disability, which can range from cognitive and mental disabilities to physical disabilities.

Businesses “think about race, gender and sexual orientation/identity,” Kahn-Pauli pointed out. “They do not think about disability. What they may not recognize is that disability is a natural part of the human experience and cuts across other barriers that divide us.”

The aging of America’s workforce may push the issue into the forefront: About one out of three Americans age 65 to 69 have a disability, compared with one out of 10 for people 25 to 44.

Already, those trends are noticeable, with the ranks of people with disabilities increasing by 2.2 million people between 2005 to 2015, or a rise of about 4 percent, the Census found.

Geography is yet another component, with higher disability rates found among less-educated adults in the Midwest and South, according to research from Brookings Institution fellow Martha Ross. Almost four out of 10 prime-age workers without a college degree report some level of disability in Johnson County, Kansas, the greatest share of any of the 130 large U.S. cities and counties she examined.

Many of those locations with high disability rates among the less educated are also dealing with aging workforces, as well as fewer economic opportunities.

The links among education, age, poverty and disability can be complex. Economists such as Princeton University’s Angus Deaton and Anne Case are probing whether a lack of good jobs for middle-aged, less-educated white Americans is leading to lower economic and social well being, as well as higher death rates, which they call “deaths of despair.”

“There’s plausible story here, in a context of decreased demand for workers with less than a bachelor’s degree,” Brooking’s Ross said. “Health problems and the ‘deaths of despair’ that Case and Deaton talk about are increasing because of a lack of ability to find family support and work. That has cascading effects.”

Older workers who develop disabilities may experience different outcomes in the labor market depending on their education attainment and whether their jobs will accommodate them. Some companies are designing programs to reach out to workers with disabilities, such as accounting firm Ernst & Young, which has a disability network and inclusiveness program, Glazer said.

As Kahn-Pauli noted: “We are the only minority group that anyone can join at any time due to accident, illness or aging.”

Read on CBS Moneywatch

New Analysis of U.S. Employers Reveals Five Common Attributes of Companies that Excel in Welcoming People with Disabilities into Workforce


NEW YORK (July 24) – As the nation prepares to recognize the anniversary of the groundbreaking Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) the National Organization on Disability (NOD) today released results of the 2017 Disability Employment Tracker™ which provides rarely seen insights into the employment practices of U.S. employers. The Tracker, which measured practices and outcomes of more than 175 companies that together employ 2.4 million American workers, reveals that companies with a higher than average representation of people with disabilities (4% or greater) share five key inclusion practices in common. Those employers that have struggled to hire people with disabilities and are missing out on a huge and talented labor pool, can implement these best practices for better results.

“For American business, the quest for talent – the most gifted, the most driven, the most committed – has become the defining challenge of the 21st century,” said NOD President Carol Glazer. “Yet 27 years removed from the passage of the ADA barely one-fifth of people with disabilities have found a job. Something is wrong. A critical connection is being missed – at enormous cost in individual lives, in productivity and in the corporate bottom line. But this new survey data provides tangible actions; as it reveals the practices common to companies that have successfully tapped into this rich talent pool—and these progressive businesses are benefitting greatly as a result.”

Glazer said hiring people with disabilities can have unique benefits for employers. People with disabilities spend their lives ignoring discouragement, persisting through setbacks, solving problems, and finding creative routes around obstacles. They are a rich supply of talent, ready to be tapped, at a time when talent is at a premium.

The successful practices revealed by NOD’s 2017 Disability Employment Tracker include:
Companies with a higher than average representation of people with disabilities (> 4%) share these practices. Strategy & Metrics: Senior leaders discuss/publicly promote overall diversity; Plan for improving disability inclusion practices; Diversity champion accountable to drive disability strategy. Culture & Climate: Employee/business resource groups or affinity groups; Disability-specific employee/business resource group with annual budget. Talent Sourcing: Recruiters know how to find accommodation process. People Practices: Post-offer and pre-employment, new hires asked if accommodation needed. Workplace & Technology: Universal design principles applied in new facility buildouts.

  1. Strategy & Metrics. Senior leaders discuss and publicly promote overall diversity. Further, they have a plan of action for improving disability inclusion practices that is driven by a disability champion who is accountable to advance this strategy.
  2. Climate & Culture. Priority is given to creating employee/business resource or affinity groups that are specific to disability. Most critically, those groups have annual budgets that allow them to take visible and impactful action.
  3. Recruiter Training. Recruiters, who are on the front line with job candidates, are trained in, and know how to find and use the company’s accommodation process. This helps ensure candidates gain access to the supports needed to be a successful candidate and land the job.
  4. People Practices. HR teams are trained to proactively ask new hires if they need an accommodation in the post-offer and pre-employment stages. This improves the employee experience and ensures that there are no gaps in providing support to employees with disabilities from day one.
  5. Workplace & Technology. As new facilities are built, universal design principles – a set of design guidelines that ensure the physical workplace works well for people of every ability – are routinely applied.

“The employers who do hire from this pool consistently rank employees with disabilities among their best, most dedicated workers, with some of the lowest rates of turnover,” added Glazer. “Furthermore, research has shown that the vast majority of consumers prefer to buy from companies who hire people with disabilities, and Americans with disabilities and their friends and families constitute a huge and growing consumer segment with over $3.9 trillion in disposable income.”


Haven’t taken the Tracker yet? Sign up today. Access extensive benchmarking and leading practices customized to your business goals with the Disability Inclusion Accelerator.

The Disability Employment Tracker™ was developed in partnership with The National Business and Disability Council at The Viscardi Center and Mercer-Sirota.

ADA Lawsuits Spark Concerns over Job Website Accessibility


Tess Taylor and Liza Casabona

June 22, 2017 – Recruiting for diversity is good for business. An Indeed survey earlier this year indicated that 77% of employees think it’s very or quite important for companies to be diverse. The Center for Talent Innovation recently reported that a diverse talent pool is vital for a competitive edge in any market. The more diverse an employee population is, the better people understand commonalities, which often translates to better relationships and added innovation.

But, what if despite all efforts to increase diversity when hiring, the career website of an organization backfires because a candidate with a disability is not able to complete an application?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) got national attention recently when a blind customer filed a lawsuit against grocery chain Winn-Dixie because he could not utilize his vocalizing software to read the content of the website. Just last year alone, there were some 240 lawsuits stemming from alleged website accessibility problems — with organizations like Footlocker, Rue 21, Brooks Brothers Group Inc., and the National Basketball Association facing scrutiny.

Such cases highlight how important it is for companies to follow the laws on website accessibility that have been around for years. Section 508 is a federal mandate that requires all federal contractors and government agency websites be accessible to all viewers, including persons with a disability. This means all organizations must ensure that websites, including applications, can be accessed by scanning tools, use language and content that is friendly to diverse visitors, and offer support for those who are unable to complete their searches for information.


Carol Glazer, president of National Organization on Disability (NOD), the private, non-profit organization that supports and promotes career and life success for Americans with disabilities told HR Dive that the biggest employment barriers for Americans living with disabilities related to work and employment lie in misperceptions.

For the 57 million Americans living with disabilities, the largest barriers to employment usually stem from stigma about what individuals with disabilities can achieve and contribute to the workforce,” Glazer said. “If you look at history, you see a whole class of people that have been largely segregated. Before curb cuts mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, many people with physical disabilities couldn’t leave their homes and travel in their neighborhoods. Those with intellectual and mental health conditions were historically confined to institutions where they had to be cared for by so-called ‘specially-trained individuals.’ So until very recently, most people with disabilities just weren’t part of the community.”

There was not historically an understanding of how disabilities impact people, and whether they could work, Glazer said, pointing out it wasn’t dissimilar to how women in the workplace were viewed early on. “We fear the unknown,” she said.

Public policy approaches to the issue often took a limited approach focused on “income maintenance,” Glazer noted, which created what NOD refers to as a “tyranny of low expectations.”

“We as a society have not expected people with disabilities – whether they have a college degree or not – to work,” she said. “Disability can touch any race, ethnicity or gender, and it includes a wide range of disabilities from mobility and developmental disabilities to chronic health conditions like diabetes, among others. In fact, one in five Americans has a disability. Yet only 20% of working age people with disabilities are engaged in the workforce. Something is wrong. A critical connection is being missed – at enormous cost in individual lives, in productivity, and in the corporate bottom line.”


Technology is the new frontier for improving workplace accessibility, particularly given a digital revolution that has moved everything from basic HR management to recruitment and hiring online.

“Technology that is not accessible to individuals with disabilities comes at a high cost to companies. With digital technology overtaking traditional newspaper job listings and hard copy applications as the main interface between businesses and job seekers, companies that adopt accessible hiring technologies can gain a competitive edge in courting talent with disabilities. Accessible technology also includes features, like the ability to enlarge text on demand, which are helpful to all users — not only those who identify as having a disability,” Glazer said.

These advances are of particular note for job posting sites and search engines, some of which have taken note of the importance of accessibility.

James Hu, founder and CEO of Jobscan, the Seattle-based organization that combines applicant tracking systems (ATS) with resume and job search matching said recruitment websites and job boards have several areas where they could improve, including gaining better understanding of the specific needs some candidates have or the challenges they face.

On the website tools side, they are built by understanding pain points of candidates. Talking to people with different challenges, and how can we build better resources, means being mindful of this. We must open up the dialogue to design something better,” Hu said.

Making jobs accessible to candidates who face vision, hearing and language or comprehension barriers will involve a better understanding of the audience consuming information on sites and where those resources fall short, he added.

We need to understand the type of audience that is consuming the information found on the website. We can discover what are they viewing, resources they are visiting the most, and then design better tools and content for those with disabilities. There also need to be alternatives offered so that individuals can submit applications via email or reach out to speak to someone by phone if they are unable to use the applicant system or resources,” Hu said.

Hardware limitations do sometimes pose a challenge, Hu noted. Job sites don’t generally control voice assisting technology and other tools used to access website content. But sites do have control over how content is displayed and whether websites are built to compliment and work with such tools, he added. For example, a website could feature simple written content or a high contrast colors to improve usability.

Whether the technology is under direct control of employers, it is important that they keep accessibility in focus.

“Importantly, lacking accessible technology can also put your company at risk for non-compliance with federal, and/or state and local laws,” Glazer noted.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) includes requirements that all private employers with 15 or more employees, state and local government employers of any size, and public accommodations and commercial facilities, offer accessible consumer-facing websites, and digital applications are accessible to individuals with disabilities when they are requested, she notes. But employers who take recruiting a diverse talent pool seriously should think about going beyond just what’s required.

“Companies seeking to attract talent with disabilities know they must proactively make their processes accessible, as an important signal to prospective employees that the company is welcoming to employees with disabilities,” Glazer notes. Efforts to improve recruiting tools should be cross disciplinary and include HR, compliance professionals and IT experts to meet accessibility requirements and ensure positive user experiences across the board, she added.


Employers also need to think beyond just recruiting tools and look hard at technology and software used within an organization as well as company culture and policies.

“Digital job boards are but one method of getting a job. Employers are recognizing that job boards alone aren’t sufficient for getting ‘ready’ for this new workforce,” Glazer notes. “[Employers] need to think about culture and climate – the accessibility of the company’s physical environment, of their websites and intranets, of their interviewing techniques and onboarding. They need to think about community providers that help source candidates and the systems they use to track candidates, new hires, and how to keep them engaged.”

Many employers have already taken such steps. According to the 2017 Disability Employment Tracker 82% of companies that responded reported that their recruiting, onboarding, and training processes are accessible to individuals with disabilities, including online applications, onboarding documents and company culture training.

Disability inclusion in the workplace is early in its evolution, Glazer notes, which means companies still benefit from guidance and examples of best practices. NOD offers a suite of Disability Employment Professional Services which give employers practical tips and strategic guidance to improve, or implement, disability inclusion initiatives.


The good news, Glazer notes, is there are incentives for employers to reach out to a broader group of candidates.

“The disability workforce may well be the richest talent pool still broadly untapped – ready, willing, and most of all, able to supply the dedication and ingenuity that will fuel the workforce of the 21st century,” Glazer said. “Hiring people with disabilities can have unique benefits for employers. People with disabilities spend their lives ignoring discouragement, persisting through setbacks, solving problems and finding creative routes around obstacles. They are a rich supply of talent, ready to be tapped, at a time when talent is at a premium.”

Research has shown that employees with disabilities are often ranked among companies’ most dedicated and best, Glazer said. Consumers have also shown a preference for buying from companies who hire people with disabilities, she added, not to mention, “Americans with disabilities and their friends and families constitute a huge and growing consumer segment with over $3.9 trillion in disposable income.”

The potential benefits for recruiting and for companies is general could be significant.

* 6/26/17 Tess C. Taylor updated ADA and 508 content for clarification.

Published on HR Dive

How Boston Can Help America’s College Grads with Disabilities Find Jobs | Blog by Carol Glazer + Kathleen A. Petkauskos

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post where NOD President Carol Glazer regularly contributes to the ongoing discussion about disability in America and how to close the employment gap for people with disabilities.

To have a disability in America is to belong to a large extended community — one out of every five of us fits the description — that includes immense diversity, but also common threads of shared experience. One of those shared experiences is a wholly unwelcomed one. It’s unemployment, an artificial and unnecessary gulf that keeps tens of millions of people out of the productive workforce. It is wasteful and isolating and painful.

The trend lines, however, are more promising than they’ve ever been. Today’s employers have enormous incentives to find, train, welcome, retain, and promote new sources of talent. And the disability workforce may well be the richest talent pool still broadly untapped — ready, willing, and most of all, able to supply the dedication and ingenuity that will fuel the workforce of the 21st century.

So why, then, are so many still unemployed?

For American business, the quest for talent — the most gifted, the most driven, the most committed — has become the defining challenge of our times. The massive wave of baby boom retirement, plus the surge of competition for skills, creativity, and loyalty, has created a shortage — not just of workers, but of the best workers, the ones who imagine, persevere, overcome challenges, and exceed expectations.

Yet strangely, major segments of corporate America continue to overlook a pool of available employees who excel in just these ways. People with disabilities spend their lives ignoring discouragement, persisting through setbacks, solving problems, and finding creative routes around obstacles. They are a rich supply of talent, ready to be tapped, at a time when talent is at a premium.

This fact is more than field-tested: the employers who do hire from this pool consistently rank employees with disabilities among their best, most dedicated workers, with some of the lowest rates of turnover. Furthermore, surveys confirm that customers tend to favor companies that make the effort.

And yet, barely one-fifth of people with disabilities have found a job.

Something is wrong. A critical connection is being missed — at enormous cost in individual lives, in productivity, and in the corporate bottom line.

This failure to hire from this ready and able talent pool is even more troubling for business now, when a recent rule requires federal contractors to show measurable progress toward filling 7 percent of their jobs, at all levels, with employees with disabilities. For businesses covered by this rule — which together employ one in four American workers — missing out on the disability labor force will be costly both in productivity and in regulatory compliance.

Admittedly, finding the right workers in any labor pool — especially one not yet fully familiar to many employers — may demand some skills and effort that are out of the ordinary. For that, the National Organization on Disability — for 35 years the nation’s preeminent link between people with disabilities and the wider world of employment, independence, and community — offers companies a complete set of solutions. We don’t just analyze, advise, and assess; we make the journey with companies, from initial exploration through stage after stage of improvement, all the way to success.

We also are focused on helping our colleges and universities become more adept at helping graduates with disabilities find employment. While our nation’s universities have become increasingly skilled at ensuring accommodations on campus for students with disabilities, most are not as equipped at preparing students with disabilities for the workforce or introducing these young adults to the employers seeking to hire them. The result is that only 25-percent of college graduates with disabilities are working. So together with local partners in Boston, including Work Without Limits, a program of UMass Medical School, and lead support from The Coca-Cola Foundation, we are launching Campus to Careers, a pilot program to get these talented young men and women started in rewarding professional careers. Boston was selected because of its rich ecosystem of higher-education institutions and employers motivated to hire top talent. We will report out on our findings from Boston and scale effective methods nationally.

The mission – ours and every other agency committed to this cause – is to ensure that no talent, no ability, no human potential ever goes to waste, and that everyone who aspires to contribute and achieve will be part of a labor market and a society that values their ability, welcomes their energy, and rewards their dedication to excellence.

Learn more about Campus to Careers

By Carol Glazer, President, National Organization on Disability, and Kathleen A. Petkauskos, Senior Program Director, Work Without Limits

Recruiting Employees with Disabilities

*From the Sodexo Insights blog By: Carol Glazer and Howard Green*

Friday, February 17, 2017 – 1:30pm – For the 57 million Americans living with disabilities, the largest barrier to Quality of Life is finding employment. There are 30 million Americans with disabilities of working age but only 20 percent of them participate in the workforce.

The barriers to employment usually stem from stigma about what individuals with disabilities can achieve and contribute to the workforce. A survey that we worked on with PwC found that many people try to hide their disability out of fear that stigma will keep them from getting a job or limit their job options.

That’s a huge waste of talent at a time when the American workforce needs it most. With Baby Boomers retiring and new jobs being created, there will be an estimated 47 million new job openings in this decade, according The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce.

Additionally, hiring people with disabilities can have unique benefits for employers. A 2012 study by Walgreens found that workers with disabilities had 48 percent lower turnover rates than the nondisabled employee population, 67 percent lower medical costs, and equal rates of accuracy and productivity.

Here are a few ways to ensure your organization is taking advantage of this talent pool:

Foster a disability-inclusive culture

Employees with disabilities are looking for a work environment where they feel safe discussing a disability with coworkers and leaders. A firm’s leaders can play an important role in starting and sustaining the conversation internally around disability, creating expectations and driving accountability for disability inclusion initiatives.  Include content and images addressing employees with disabilities on your company’s materials, social media and employee intranet, and review your disability policies and processes to ensure that these workers do not go unsupported.

The National Organization on Disability offers a suite of Disability Employment Professional Services that provide strategic guidance and practical steps customized to enhance each company’s organizational culture and improve hiring and retention rates for employees with disabilities.

Commit to a disability employment initiative

Create a program with the specific goal of hiring people with disabilities. Create hiring goals and a strategy to achieve them.  Look for new places to find candidates, including disability-specific job sites or campus disability services offices. Depict people with apparent disabilities in your external recruitment materials and on your website. And educate recruiters and hiring managers on alternate interviewing techniques, as some wonderful candidates may have difficulty with traditional interviewing formats.

In addition, train your recruiters and managers on disability etiquette and awareness to help ensure that they understand the needs of candidates and new hires with disabilities—and current employees with disabilities, too. The most successful disability employment initiatives are multi-faceted and include both external outreach efforts and internal culture-change efforts.

Build a comfortable working environment

Set aside a central accommodations budget, so that employees with disabilities can access job tools and aides, without affecting departmental budgets. A study from the Job Accommodation Network found that 59 percent of accommodations cost absolutely nothing to make, while the rest typically cost only $500. The study found that providing accommodations led to retention of valuable employees, improved productivity and morale, reduction in workers’ compensation and training costs, and improved company diversity.

Read more at the Sodexo Insights blog

NOD Welcomes Laura Giovacco of Ernst & Young LLP to Board of Directors

EY Firm Joins NOD’s Corporate Leadership Council as President’s Circle Member

NEW YORK (Feb. 3, 2017)– The National Organization on Disability (NOD) today announced that Laura Giovacco has been elected to its board of directors. The unanimous vote came at NOD’s most recent board meeting. Giovacco is a partner in the Financial Services Office of Ernst & Young LLP. In addition to lending her talents to the NOD board, Giovacco was instrumental in the firm joining the National Organization on Disability’s Corporate Leadership Council at the President’s Circle level.

“Laura has helped leading global financial institutions solve complex business challenges for more than 25 years,” said NOD Chairman, Gov. Tom Ridge. “She’s expressed a desire to bring that same passion and creativity to NOD so that we can work together with corporate America to find more employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Ernst & Young LLP is an example of an organization that has already made that a leading priority. That is why I am delighted not only to welcome Laura and her considerable talents to NOD, but also EY as the latest member of our Corporate Leadership Council.”

Membership in the Corporate Leadership Council provides an opportunity for national and global companies to learn from NOD’s experts and corporate peers about leading practices and common challenges in disability employment – and to be recognized for their commitment to disability inclusion.

Laura has over 25 years of experience working with senior management and boards of leading global financial institutions to support their strategy and solve complex business issues.  Laura’s expertise spans banking and capital markets, risk management, regulatory compliance, internal control, and accounting change.

Laura is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and graduated from New York University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting and Economics.  She is a member of the AICPA and New York State Society of CPAs.

“I am honored to join the Board of Directors as we seek to activate change and create more employment opportunities for individuals with diverse abilities,” said Giovacco. “At EY, we believe that people with a variety of abilities help us to be more innovative, productive and effective which is why I am committed to working with my peers to not only identify existing challenges, but implement meaningful disability inclusion programs that benefit individuals around the world.”

EY is also a winner of the inaugural 2016 NOD Leading Disability Employer Seal™. The Seal is awarded annually to the companies with the highest performance on NOD’s Disability Employment Tracker™,a free and confidential disability employment assessment.

NOD Chairman Touts the Benefits of Disability Hiring in Feature Interview on The CEO Show

January 29, 2017 –Tom Ridge, first Homeland Security Secretary and Chairman of Ridge Global, discusses the future of cyber security and his passion for disability employment on The CEO Show with host Robert Reiss.

Gov. Ridge, who serves as chairman of the National Organization on Disability’s board of directors, encouraged business leaders to tap into the benefits employees with disabilities bring to the workforce.

Gov. Ridge shared that in NOD’s work with leading companies like Starbucks, Walmart, “they’ve discovered that it’s not a matter of social responsibility or just meeting some kind of diversity requirement. [Individuals with disabilities] are good, solid, reliable, dependable, effective employees.”

These companies, he continued, “have hired people with disabilities, not as a means of charity, but as a good business decision.”

Listen to the interview.