State government can play a significant role in advancing the recruitment, hiring, retention and advancement of people with disabilities by private sector employers. Work Matters: A Framework for States on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities  identifies strategies that many states are adopting to build the capacity of private sector employers to engage in disability inclusion efforts, such as adopting policies that incentivize hiring of workings with disabilities and provide financial supports and technical assistance.

State Policies Relevant to PRIVATE SECTOR ENGAGEMENT

Click on the map above to see the corresponding policies.

According to the National Governors Association’s A Better Bottom Line report, governors and state agencies can help improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities by ensuring that state government is a good partner for business. Many businesses emphasize that they need a good partner to be successful. A report by Rutgers University, showed that many successful initiatives are sustained by partnerships with intermediary organizations. Intermediaries recruit individuals and either coordinate or provide outreach, assessment, training and support services from multiple agencies for prospective employees.

Lesson 4 identifies examples of policies relating to private sector engagement adopted by state policymakers, both those included in the Work Matters report (2016) and those passed following the publication of the report. This lesson also includes links to resources that provide additional information to enable policymakers to make informed decisions about facilitating the engagement of the private sector in disability inclusion efforts.


States may want to consider exploring coordinated strategies to support business hiring efforts, lessen administrative burdens, and engage in education and outreach to increase resource utilization. Many stakeholders and organizations work in this sphere; synchronizing initiatives to enhance employment of people with disabilities can make service delivery more efficient and effective. Learn more in the Work Matters Framework. 

Suggested Strategies: 

      1. Establish, expand and improve governor’s committees/commissions/boards or other state agencies that work with businesses interested in employing people with disabilities. Please find the directory of state liaisons below:

AL |AK | AZ |AR | CA | CO | CT | DE | DC |FL | GA |HI | ID |IL | IN | IA | KS |KY | LA | ME |MD | MA | MI | MN |MS | MO | MT |NE | NV |NH | NJ | NM |NY | NC |ND | OH |OK | OR |PA | RI | SC |SD | TN | TX | UT |VT | VA |WA | WV | WI | WY | GuamPuerto Rico | Virgin Islands

      1. Provide a single point of contact to interact with the business sector who can help businesses navigate state agencies that support the employment of individuals with disabilities.

Note: The national network of the 80 state vocational rehabilitation programs supports a united or “one company” approach to working with business customers. As part of this, each state vocational rehabilitation, or VR, director has named a business consultant who functions as the designated point of contact for their agency. These 80 points of contact, through Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation–or CSAVR–leadership and support, form the National Employment Team, or NET.

      1. Adopt formal mechanisms for involving private sector employers in efforts to enhance employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Engage the business community to determine needs and priorities.
      2. Dedicate staff with business expertise.
      3. Develop written resources, including best practices, for and by those with business experience.
      4. Engage in a public awareness and education campaign highlighting success stories of businesses hiring people with disabilities.
      5. Develop a disability awareness, etiquette and inclusion training program for private sector employers.
      6. Convene a task force or summit bringing public and private interests together to discuss state disability employment issues by utilizing a task force or summit as an opportunity to identify business champions. Formalizing public-private conversations on this workforce development goal can increase buy in and ownership across sectors.

Examples in Action


Ohio’s Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities “works with partners in business, education and non-profit organizations to facilitate customized employment plans for Ohioans with disabilities; help Ohio companies recruit and retain employees with disabilities; and is the sole agency administering the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs in Ohio.” There are three bureaus under the OOD that work on services, vocational rehabilitation and disability determination. The program also emphasizes business engagement. The Annual Report showcases DisAbility Job Fairs, employers’ trainings, and fostering a peer-to-peer business organization (OHBLN). Additionally, Ohio’s Equal Opportunity Division oversees diversity inclusion in state government employment and procurement, including Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity, or EDGE, certification.


The Florida Governor’s Commission on Jobs for Floridians with Disabilities has established an employer help desk within the Abilities Work web portal, part of the Employ Florida Marketplace, to provide a single point of contact to assist employers in navigating state and federal disability support systems.

Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Governor’s Commission on Disability provides support to state agencies, people with disabilities, and businesses looking to increase disability hiring and inclusion. The commission offers resources to businesses on ADA compliance, reasonable accommodations and recruitment.

South Dakota

South Dakota is sending a clear message that private-sector businesses are important partners in the state’s recent disability employment efforts.  Through its Employment Works Task Force and Ability for Hire initiative, South Dakota is involving the private sector at the earliest stages of policy development and recognizing the positive impact made by disability inclusive employers through public outreach campaigns.


Utah’s Work Ability Utah program, headed by the Utah Department of Health, “…strives to link employers in the business community with the qualified workforce of people with disabilities. Goals include increased communication, reduction of barriers, and creation a comprehensive system of work incentives and supports for both the employer and the individual with disabilities.”

The U.S. Department of Labor’s “Add Us In” Initiative worked with a cohort of states and cities to develop strategies “connecting small businesses with untapped talent—people with disabilities.” Further, Governors in thirty-seven states have issued proclamations recognizing National Disability Awareness Month and three states have adopted legislation: Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.


States may want to consider extending diversity and inclusion (affirmative action) policies for state government contractors, including requirements to prepare affirmative action plans for individuals with disabilities that include barrier analysis, workforce utilization analysis, goals and progress reports that are comparable to policies applicable to race, national origin and gender. States may also want to consider expanding and improving self-identification practices to ensure accurate counts of people with disabilities. Learn more in the Work Matters Framework. 

Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Wisconsin include disability in the list of categories covered by affirmative action requirements applicable to entities that do business with state government. Additionally, both Massachusetts and Tennessee have enacted affirmative action legislation regarding individuals with disabilities.


In 2016, Massachusetts enacted H4569. Section 4 of the legislation establishes participation goals for individuals with disabilities in state procurement practices, including businesses that hire people with disabilities. The legislation also requires the Supplier Diversity Office (SDO) to coordinate with the Office of Disability in establishing these participation goals and file an annual report with the House and Senate on the progress made toward meeting the participation goal.


In 2017, Tennessee enacted HB0165, which authorizes a private employer to adopt hiring and promotion preferences to an honorably discharged veteran; the spouse of a veteran with a service-connected disability; the un-remarried widow or widower of a veteran who died of a service-connected disability; or the un-remarried widow or widower of a member of the United States armed forced who died in the line of duty.


States may want to consider adopting tax incentive policies to encourage businesses to increase disability inclusion. States including Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Tennessee, Delaware, North Dakota, and Kansas have implemented a number of strategies to this end, including iterations of employment tax credits for firms hiring individuals with disabilities. Learn more in the Work Matters Framework. 


Iowa provides employers a tax credit of 65 percent of wages paid in the first 12 months, up to $20,000 per employee, for people with disabilities. A person with a disability is defined as, “someone who has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a history of impairment, is regarded as having an impairment, qualifies for the targeted jobs tax credit as a person with a disability undergoing vocational rehabilitation or has been certified by the State Division of Vocational Rehabilitation as having a disability.” Impairment includes, but is not limited to, psychological disorders and conditions, cosmetic disfigurement, anatomical loss, and any mental or psychological disorder. 

New York

New York’s Workers with Disabilities Employment Tax Credit provides up to $2,100 per person for the second year of employment (35 percent of the first $6,000 wages) for individuals receiving vocational rehabilitation services (with a written individual employment plan) from the state, or those who qualify for a Federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) for the first year. In order to qualify, an employee must meet the eligibility requirements for certification under the WOTC program as a vocational rehabilitation referral and be certified by the New York State Education Department’s Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR) or the Office of Children and Family Services’ Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped (CBVH).

The state’s Workers with Disabilities Tax Credit Program also provides tax credits for businesses that hire individuals with developmental disabilities. The tax credits are 5,000 for full-time employment (30 hours or more per week), based on 15 percent of the individual’s wages paid after January 1, 2015 for a period of employment no less than six months; and $2,500 for part-time employment (between eight hours and 30 hours per week), based on 10 percent of the individual’s wages paid after January 1, 2015 for a period of employment no less than six months.


Kansas adopted HB2044 (2019), which provides an income tax credit for taxpayer purchases of certain goods and services from qualified vendors providing employment for blind or disabled individuals.

Note: The following are resources that offer additional information on Federal Government employer tax incentives:


States may want to consider exploring tax credits for employment supports like physical building barrier removal, workplace accommodations, technology, transportation and child care. To enhance hiring, retention and productivity for those with disabilities working in small businesses, states have offered a variety of tax credits to offset the financial burden of making accommodations for those with disabilities working in these settings. Learn more in the Work Matters Framework.

Data for Accommodation Costs infographic (from Job Accommodation Network report “Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact”)

$ 0

Typical one-time cost for reasonable accommodations that do require employer expenditure: $500.

58 percent of reasonable accommodations cost $0.

75 percent of employers reported the accommodation was very effective or extremely effective.

90 percent of employers indicated that making an accommodation helped them retain a valued employee.

72 percent of employers indicated that making an accommodation increased that employee’s productivity.

Suggested Strategies:

      1. Utilize current tax incentive policies to influence hiring behavior by including performance goals for businesses, economic investment expectations, and requirements to target credits on new hires tied to vocational rehabilitation/workforce development referrals and unemployed individuals.
      1. Explore parallel strategies to use sales tax rebates—for states without income taxes—to encourage businesses to hire people with disabilities, including rebates for accommodations, accessible technology and capital expenditures.

Iowa, Maryland, Kansas, and Arizona all have programs and policies which provide businesses to claim credits for improving and/or increasing accessibility.


Kansas legislation allows any taxpayer who makes expenditures for the purpose of making an existing facility accessible to individuals with a disability, including making all or any portion of a facility or equipment usable for the employment of individuals with a disability, to claim an income tax credit equal to 50 percent of the expenditures or $10,000, whichever is less.


The Iowa Assistive Device Tax Credit allows an eligible small business to claim a credit against corporate tax equal to 50 percent of the first $5,000 paid during the tax year for purchasing, renting or modifying an assistive device or making other workplace modifications for an employee with a disability. The Iowa Assistive Device Tax Credit was updated in 2018 by SF2417.


Arizona enacted HB2214 (2017), which allows for a subtraction for eligible business access expenditures paid or incurred by a taxpayer in order to comply with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act by retrofitting developed real property.


Streamlining the process by which employers committed to hiring staff with disabilities are matched with potential employees is important to increasing overall employment in the private sector for people with disabilities. States can work to create and/or support platforms helping employers and potential employees can find each other in a variety of ways, including web-based programs or databases. Learn more in the Work Matters Framework.

    • For example, Utah’s PWDNET job opening program allows businesses that have undergone accommodations and disability hiring training to flag job postings on the statewide job board, thus encouraging people with disabilities to apply. Florida’s Abilities Work web portal encourages businesses to post open positions to the Employ Florida Marketplace and utilize a  help desk to source candidates from the state vocational rehabilitation client lists.


After the publication of the Work Matters Report, CSG issued a report titled, “The Future of the Workforce: Approaches to Increasing Access and Inclusion,” which includes a review of issues and state policies relating to automation and technology (including the impact of web-based systems and artificial intelligence on the workforce) and the gig economy. Within the gig economy companies hire workers for specific short-term projects or gigs, often times through web or app-based platforms. This report outlines a number of actions states can take to mitigate the effects of the changing nature of work and the workforce to ensure better employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities.

To address the future of work and ensure that businesses which are shaping the landscape include individuals with disabilities, states can use mechanisms like future of work taskforces, policies, and initiatives. Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, California, and New Jersey, have all taken steps to better understand the future of work in their state.

    • For example, In 2019, Alabama adopted SJR71, which establishes a commission to study and advise the governor and legislature on state policy issues related to artificial intelligence and which recognizes the state’s technology and growing artificial intelligence job sector’s impact on the state’s economy. AI can enhance employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities by making it possible to perform essential job functions that may not have been possible in the past. However, AI may also be used to create barriers to employment by screening out otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities because of algorithm bias. 


In 2019, Governor Jared Polis of Colorado issued Executive Order B-2019-009 creating the Office of Future of Work to serve as the central point of contact for the State’s efforts to respond to the rapidly changing nature of work. The state must evaluate the impact of a rapidly changing global economy, rapidly emerging technologies, and new economic demands, including declining worker benefits, weakened workplace protections, and, in some cases, permanent job losses.

  • In 2018, California created an artificial intelligence Roadmap, which includes policy recommendations intended to “grow the state’s economy, take advantage of AI to enhance services…, while protecting sensitive data and promote privacy, transparency, and accountability in the development and use of AI.”  In 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom of California issued Executive Order N-11-19 establishing the Future of Work Commission. The Commission’s primary mission includes studying, understanding, analyzing, and making recommendations regarding the impact of technology on work.

    Several states have also addressed the questions whether a gig worker should be properly classified as an employee or, instead, as an independent contractor. This determination has considerable significance for workers, businesses, and the state.

          • If an individual is properly classified as an employee, the business bears responsibility for paying Federal Social Security and payroll taxes, unemployment insurance taxes, and state employment taxes. The business is also responsible for workers compensation insurance and complying with federal and state laws governing wages, hours, and working conditions, including Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (employment discrimination).
          • If an individual is properly classified as an independent contractor, the business does not bear the costs or responsibilities or obligations and the worker obtains none of the laws benefits. The state may be required to assume additional financial responsibilities.

States have taken different approaches to addressing the status of gig workers. Several states, including Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Utah have adopted a policy that creates a presumption that marketplace workers are considered independent contractors if they meet specified criteria. In contrast, California recently enacted AB5, presumes marketplace workers are employees and places the burden on the business to demonstrate that the workers are not employees, consistent with specified criteria.