How to build an inclusive workforce

OOD Inclusive Employer Toolkit

(COLUMBUS, OH) — Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) has announced the launch of the Inclusive Employer Toolkit, designed to help employers recruit, hire, and retain employees with disabilities and foster an inclusive workplace.

Recruitment and retention are challenges for many businesses. Individuals with disabilities represent a talent pool that is often hidden and underutilized. The Inclusive Employer Toolkit, which can be used in its entirety or by section, is a guide to creating an inclusive workplace and accessing this hidden pool of talent.

“Ohioans with disabilities make excellent employees because of their loyalty and drive to be successful,” said Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted. “Creating an inclusive work environment and leveraging this untapped talent pool gives companies a competitive edge, and the new OOD Employer Toolkit can help give businesses the tools they need to get started.”

“We’re inviting Ohio employers to use the Toolkit and engage with our Business Relations team to understand better how to meet your business goals by hiring candidates with disabilities,” said Kevin Miller, OOD Director.

The Toolkit includes four main topics:

  1. Building the Business Case – benefitting from hiring people with disabilities
  2. Inclusive Workplace – making the workplace inclusive of everyone
  3. Recruiting, Hiring, and Supporting Employees – getting access to a greater pool of talent
  4. Workplace Accommodations – making small changes can make a big difference

The Inclusive Employer Toolkit was created by the OOD Business Relations team, which works throughout the state to raise awareness of OOD and its mission with Employer Partners to promote and support the hiring of individuals with disabilities. The Toolkit curates the best practices, tips, resources, and webinars that have benefitted OOD Employer Partners. Use of the Toolkit is free and open to all, and a demonstration video is available on the website.

OOD is the state agency responsible for empowering Ohioans with disabilities through employment, disability determinations, and independence. OOD’s Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation serves eligible individuals with physical, mental, intellectual, and sensory disabilities, beginning at age 14, through direct, personalized services geared toward finding and retaining meaningful work. Over the last year, since March 2020, OOD has placed a total of 5,284 Ohioans with disabilities into jobs in health care, warehouse and logistics, customer service, food preparation, retail, manufacturing, and more.

The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) is a free resource that helps employers tap the benefits of disability diversity by educating public- and private-sector organizations on ways to build inclusive workplace cultures. EARN offers information and resources to empower individuals and organizations to become leaders in the employment and advancement of people with disabilities.

EARN assists employers through online support and a range of education and outreach activities. Each year, we attract more than 93,000 unique visitors to our website, which offers employer-focused resources on a range of disability inclusion topics including sourcing and hiring individuals with disabilities, disability etiquette, reasonable accommodations and encouraging self-identification. We also frequently host webinars for employers on topics related to building workforces that are inclusive of people with disabilities. Our webinars typically draw between 200 and 500 viewers each.  In addition, more than 12,000 subscribers receive our monthly e-newsletter, which highlights national and regional news, hot topics and employer success stories in the world of workplace disability inclusion. You can also follow EARN on social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, for the latest on disability inclusion trends and resources.




Hiring Ohioans with Disabilities: A Toolkit for Employers, managers and Human Resource Professionals

A new interactive "toolkit" makes it easier for Ohio employers to recruit, hire, and retain qualified workers with disabilities. "Hiring Ohioans with Disabilities: a Toolkit for Employers, Managers and Human Resource Professionals" was produced by Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS). It was created in response to a recommendation of the Ohi Workforce Integration Task Force (WIT), which Fover John R. Kasich and the Ohio General Assembly created in 2014. The toolkit is now available online at

During the work of the WIT, it became evident that Ohio employers need a clear, consistent and practical resource that outlines how best to tap into the skilled and motivated workforce individuals with disabilities represent. Hiring Ohioans with Disabilities meets the need by compiling a great deal of information into one convenient, easily accessible location.

Employers can download the toolkit to learn about the following topics and more:

  • Best practices from Ohio's top employers
  • Tax incentives for hiring workers with disabilities
  • Free sources of consultation and assistance
  • Making reasonable workplace accommodations
  • Offering more flexible work arrangements
  • Interacting with people with disabilities
  • Using job coaches to help workers with disabilities
  • Managing disability leave
  • Accommodating service animals in the workplace



Recruiting, Hiring, Retaining, and Promoting People with Disabilities: A Resource Guide for Employers

Frequently Asked Questions: Employing People with Disabilities

  • Set an expectation from the top-down about your businesses’ commitment to hiring people with disabilities.


  • Incorporate disability into existing diversity committees within your business.


  • Embed disability components into training for HR and new employees, and include disability in diversity training.


  • Integrate the concepts, skills and results of your disability efforts into the fabric of the organization




Inclusive Intersnhip Programs: A How-to Guide for Employers

Public and private employers of all sizes can reference this guide to learn about the benefits associated with facilitating inclusive internship programs as well as the components to consider when designing, implementing, and evaluating these programs. It is important to note that an internship program can vary greatly in size from one intern in a small office to a whole group spread out across a larger employer. As employers reference this guide, they can adapt its recommendations to meet the goals of their specific program.


Northeast ADA Center - Small Business at Work Toolkit

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.