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The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) offers information and resources to help employers recruit, hire, retain and advance people with disabilities; build inclusive workplace cultures; and meet diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) goals. 

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Start here to learn how to recruit, hire, retain and advance people with disabilities; why workplace inclusion of people with disabilities matters; and how EARN’s resources can help.

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    Phases of Employment

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    Build a pipeline of talent that includes people with disabilities.

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    Identify people who have the skills and attributes for the job.

  • A woman with a disability wearing a helmet works in a factory


    Keep talented employees with disabilities, including those who acquire them on the job.

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    Ensure that employees with disabilities have equal opportunities for advancement.

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Hire (& Keep) the Best: Talent Acquisition & Retention Processes

Learn about effective policies and process for hiring and retaining employees with disabilities as part of overall effort to meet organizational diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) goals.  

In addition to taking steps to attract and recruit people with disabilities, businesses should review their policies and processes across the employment lifecycle to determine whether they facilitate or impede the hiring, retention and advancement of people with disabilities.

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Learn More about Talent Acquisition and Retention Processes

 Policies and processes that can support the hiring and retention of employees with disabilities include:

  • Accommodations
  • Qualification Standards
  • Job Announcements
  • Hiring Process, in General
  • Special Initiatives for Youth with Disabilities
  • Career Development and Advancement
  • Retention/Promotion


For all employers, it is important to have a central and clear process for requesting accommodations that is readily accessible to applicants (on your recruiting website and materials) and existing employees. Strategies related to this process are explored in detail under Ensure Productivity: Reasonable Accommodation Policies and Procedures.

Qualification Standards

Examples of strategies employers can use related to qualification standards include:

  1. Reviewing the company’s eligibility criteria and any company-specific qualification standards for positions to identify and revise those that are unnecessarily restrictive and potentially exclude people with disabilities.
  2. Assisting hiring managers in the identification of the essential functions of positions to ensure applicants have the requisite knowledge, skills and abilities to successfully perform the functions, with or without reasonable accommodations.
  3. Reviewing human resource processes and their implementation on an annual basis and making necessary modifications or improvements, when appropriate.

Job Announcements

Examples of strategies employers can use related to job announcements include:

  1. Indicating in job announcements that the company encourages applications from candidates with disabilities. The announcement may include the universal access symbol for emphasis, as well as communicating the company’s intent to make reasonable accommodations for qualified job applicants and employees with disabilities. (It is important to note that for federal contactors covered by Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, prescribed language must be used in job announcements.)
  2. Drafting clear, understandable job announcements that explain in plain language the required qualifications and duties of the job and note the availability of reasonable accommodations and contact information for requesting them.

Hiring Process, In General

Examples of strategies employers can use related to the general hiring process include:

  1. Adopting a hiring policy that includes disability among the positive selection factors.
  2. Ensuring that the hiring manager documents reasons for the non-selection of any pre-qualified candidates with disclosed disabilities.
  3. Providing opportunities for practice interviews for job seekers with disabilities referred by community-based organizations who meet qualification standards, as a way of identifying potential candidates for current or future job vacancies.
  4. Implementing a mechanism for hiring managers to provide feedback on applicant interviews.
  5. Ensuring that job offers are not rescinded for inappropriate reasons.
  6. Using job fairs as hiring events.
  7. Ensuring representation of existing employees with disabilities in the onboarding process, for example, as part of orientation presentations and welcome committees.
  8. Designating sufficient staff to handle any disability-related issues that arise during the application and selection processes and providing them with sufficient training, support and other resources to carry out their responsibilities. Such responsibilities include:
    • Ensuring that disability-related questions from the public regarding the company’s application and selection processes are answered promptly and correctly, including questions about reasonable accommodations;
    • Processing requests for reasonable accommodations by applicants during the application and placements processes; and
    • Overseeing any other programs designed to increase hiring of people with disabilities.

Career Development and Advancement

Examples of strategies relating to career development and advancement include the following:

  1. Adopting a promotion policy that includes disability among the positive selection factors.
  2. Reviewing accommodation records to identify qualified employees with disabilities who may be qualified for promotions or desirable transfers.
  3. Providing training and career enhancement opportunities, including apprenticeship programs, on-the-job training, developmental assignments, job shadowing, mentoring and tuition reimbursement for employees. These strategies should include opportunities to facilitate upward mobility for employees at lower pay levels.
  4. Providing career enhancement/leadership development opportunities, including reviewing employee development programs to ensure that no barriers exist for employees with disabilities.
  5. Providing training to leadership, managers and line staff about new strategies such as workforce flexibility, including flexibility around job tasks (job restructuring, job sharing and job creation).
  6. Ensuring that advertisements for training/workshops offering career development include language advising of the provision of reasonable accommodations.
  7. Monitoring the composition of participants in training and mentoring programs and tracking and reporting participation rates.


Examples of strategies and practices relating to retention include:

  1. Adopting disability management and prevention programs (stay-at work and return-to-work programs).
  2. Conducting studies that identify and implement methods of collecting feedback on the needs and interests of employees with disabilities, including hosting regular focus groups and allowing for the submission of anonymous surveys.
  3. Working with the company’s disability employee resource group (ERG) to identify specific strategies for improving the retention numbers.
  4. Adopting retention plans and strategies based on information obtained from surveys and exit interviews.
  5. Developing and disseminating a procedures manual related to the retention of employees with disabilities.
  6. Developing and implementing a plan to review proposed terminations to ensure disability accommodations were considered, when appropriate.
  7. Conducting exit interviews, and in the case of employees with disclosed disabilities, asking if their decision to leave is in any way related to disability.
  8. Analyzing and monitoring terminations of employees and reporting to HR or other appropriate office on a quarterly basis.

Related Resources 


Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Business Membership Organizations

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