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Five Reasons for Small Businesses to Hire Disabled Workers

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Disabled Businessman and Colleague

One in five Americans has a disability, and nearly two million children in the U.S. have special needs. This group also includes Baby Boomers dealing with age-related conditions like arthritis and macular degeneration, and 400,000 veterans returning home from the recent wars with physical injuries as well as post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

Small and medium sized businesses don’t often think about diversity as much as their larger counterparts. For smaller employers, there are simply not enough hours in the day and hiring managers may not have all the resources they need at hand to find qualified candidates.

Small businesses, however, are the most likely to benefit from hiring a person with a disability. Here are five positive, measurable reasons for hiring people with disabilities:

1. The disabled community makes up the third largest market segment, ahead of Hispanics, African Americans and Asian Americans. When you employ people with disabilities, you’re mirroring the market to attract a wider and more diverse customer base, which can increase your market share.

2. People with disabilities bring a perspective about how customers with disabilities perceive and interact with your products, which can be valuable in improving or identifying new products and services, or customizing existing ones. When you develop products and services with a broad customer appeal, you can better respond to marketplace demands and edge out the competition to increase profitability.

3. Nearly 30% of the 70 million American families have at least one family member with a disability. The disability market, which includes customers with disabilities and their friends and family, represents a $3 trillion dollar market segment. Like other segments, people with disabilities purchase products and services from companies that best understand and meet their needs.

4. The marketing opportunity spans beyond the disability market. A recent poll by the University of Massachusetts found that 87% of Americans surveyed say they prefer to patronize businesses that hire people with disabilities.

5. There are a variety of tax credits and deductions for businesses that hire people with disabilities. Only small businesses are eligible for the Disabled Access Credit, which allows a maximum $5,000 credit annually. In addition, the Work Opportunity Tax credit provides maximum tax credit of up to $2,400 per new hire.

Hiring a person with a disability makes good business sense. By evolving your workforce to include people with disabilities, you’re tapping into the full pool of talent and positioning your business for sustainable, long-term success.