The Small Business at Work Toolkit

Helping small businesses welcome employees with disabilities


This toolkit provides curated information and essential resources about how (and why!) small businesses can successfully hire and retain employees with disabilities. You’ll find easy-to-understand, practical advice, along with expert guidance on following Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Instead of searching the web for whatever article may appear first, we hope you’ll come back here often to explore the eight topics in this toolkit:

  1. Business Case — How disability inclusion benefits a business
  2. What Is Disability?  — Disability covers many conditions, both visible and invisible
  3. Productivity — Getting the work done
  4. Inclusion — Why workplace inclusion matters
  5. The ADA — The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in a small business
  6. Hiring — Recruiting and hiring people with disabilities
  7. Accommodations — A simple step-by-step process
  8. Coronavirus — Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic

It’s been said many times: Small businesses are the backbone of America. They contribute well over half the money and jobs that fuel our economy. They are hotbeds of innovation and new product development. They provide valuable support to their local communities. And they employ about half of all people currently working in the United States.

As a small business, your business, your jobs, and your contribution matter not just to you, but to all of us. And they matter to the one-in-five people living with a disability in our country today. People with disabilities are likely your employees, job applicants, and customers.

Finding and keeping employees is crucial to the success of most small businesses. We created this Small Business at Work toolkit to help small businesses access a wider range of potential employees and to ensure that those employees are performing at their best. Many small businesses operate without HR departments or with HR “departments of one.” This can make it difficult to keep disability at the top of mind.

This toolkit explains the basics of disability in a small business. It focusses on businesses with 15–500 employees. It’s not designed to be read once and never visited again; instead, it’s designed to give you the information you need when you need it.

Special parts of this toolkit are Situation Room scenarios that help you practice the information, What to Do mini-guides that summarize key points, and Deeper Dives for additional learning from recommended resources. You’ll also find actual research about disability in the workplace that was conducted by the same Cornell University institute that hosts the Northeast ADA Center—this research supports some of the points in the toolkit.