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Section 503 Best Practices for Federal Contractors

Learn about strategies to help federal contractors meet their obligations under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and recruit, hire, advance, and retain workers with disabilities.

EARN developed this guide to assist federal contractors in complying with Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act and support their efforts to attract, hire, advance, and retain employees with disabilities. The Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs (OFCCP) enforces Section 503.

This guide builds on EARN's Inclusion@Work Framework, which outlines seven components of a disability-inclusive workplace:

Each of the components is explained in this guide, along with best practices and resources for implementing them.

Lead the Way

All levels of an organization should commit to creating a diverse, equitable, inclusive and accessible work environment.

Learn about ten other strategies to build an inclusive culture, including input on accessible workplaces and work-life programs, on EARN's Inclusion@Work – Lead the Way webpage.

Build the Pipeline

Many companies struggle to find qualified candidates with disabilities. Good outreach and recruitment can help you find these workers, especially if you develop relationships with many recruitment sources that provide access to a diverse range of candidates.

Learn about ten other strategies to find talented people with disabilities, including recruiting veterans with disabilities and outreach through networking groups, on EARN's Inclusion@Work Build the Pipeline webpage.

Hire and Keep

Hiring and keeping workers with disabilities is the basis of a disability-inclusive workplace. Simple practices and changes can make your workplace a place for people with disabilities to join and grow. These methods start with a job application and continue through promotion.

Learn about more than twenty other strategies to hire and keep talent, including inclusive job announcements and professional development training, on EARN's Inclusion@Work – Hire and Keep webpage.

Ensure Productivity

Some people with disabilities may need reasonable accommodations to do their job. An accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job or work environment that enables a qualified person with a disability to apply for or perform a job. According to the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), more than half of all workplace accommodations cost nothing. Federal law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations.

Learn more about reasonable accommodations, including the role of line managers, from EARN’s Inclusion@Work – Ensure Productivity webpage.


Good communication practices within and from your organization strengthen disability inclusion.

Learn about more twenty other strategies for inclusive communication, including the roles of awards and assistance programs, from the EARN Inclusion@Work – Communicate webpage.

Be Tech Savvy

Information and communication technology (ICT) needs to be accessible for people with disabilities to thrive in your workplace. These technologies also matter for communicating with the public, hiring applicants and selling your programs.

Learn about more than twenty other strategies for accessible technology, including on needs assessments and user testing, from the EARN Inclusion@Work – Be Tech Savvy webpage.

Measure Success

These strategies can support your efforts to use data and encourage employees to self-identify. This information will enhance your disability inclusion efforts.

Learn about more than fifteen other strategies for tracking progress on disability inclusion, including data management and benchmarks for inclusion goals, on the EARN Inclusion@Work – Measure Success webpage.

Additional Resources

These resources can help you learn more about disability inclusion in your workplace.

Department of Labor Resources

Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs (OFCCP) Resources

Other Department of Labor Resources

  • The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) promotes policies that help people with disabilities find, keep and grow in jobs.
  • This public service announcement, "Who I Am," introduces viewers to the Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE). The CDE is a media-based effort to change attitudes about disability employment. The CDE is an ODEP-funded service.
  • The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) provides free, expert and confidential advice on workplace accommodations and other disability employment issues. JAN is an ODEP-funded service.
  • The Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology (PEAT) provides resources for digital accessibility in the workplace and in new, emerging technologies. PEAT is an ODEP-funded service.
  • WorkforceGPS is an online technical assistance and training website from the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. The website includes disability-specific resources.