By Kyle Goodridge

As of January 2012, almost twenty-two years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities stood at 12.9%, compared to an 8.7% rate for people without disabilities. Moreover, labor force participation for people with disabilities, at 20.0%, remained considerably lower than that for persons with no disability, at 68.9%.

Many factors, such as readiness to work or significance of disability, influence employment outcomes. Nevertheless, many individuals with disabilities that are willing and able to work remain unemployed. Furthermore, as the workforce matures and military veterans return to civilian life with service-related disabilities, the numbers of people with disabilities seeking to enter or remain in the labor force will continue to grow.

Managers and coworkers may be concerned that people with disabilities may not be able to perform the essential functions of the job without special assistance. Additionally, managers may be uncomfortable with holding employees with disabilities to the same performance standards as other employees.

People with disabilities can enhance business success through the introduction of fresh ideas and perspectives from a segment of our society that is, in many ways, not utilized to its full potential. In my opinion, all we need is the courage to step a bit outside of our comfort zones to convert that potential into profitability.