Though the Americans with disabilities act (ADA) may prove especially costly to small businesses (see "Preparing for the Americans with Disabilities Act," January 1992, [Article link]), you don't have to bear the brunt of the expenses all by yourself. The government will chip in, either through tax breaks or with financial aid. Read on:
* Tax breaks. Employers with 30 or fewer full-time employees or revenues of less than $1 million are eligible for the Disabled Access Credit (DAC, Section 44, Internal Revenue Code). To get it, they must spend $250 to $10,250 to comply with the ADA by removing barriers or installing interpreters, readers, and other forms of assistance to people with handicaps. The maximum credit is $5,000 a year.
Businesses may deduct up to $15,000 for making a facility or public-transportation vehicle more accessible, under Section 190, the Architectural and Transportation Barrier Removal Deduction.
For more information on these two tax breaks, contact Mark Pitzer at the Internal Revenue Service at 202-566-3292, or a local IRS office.
* Hard cash. A company that works with a local vocational-rehabilitation agency (funded by federal and state government under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973) can receive partial reimbursement for the wages of disabled employees. The amount and duration of the reimbursement is subject to negotiation. For more information contact your local vocational-rehabilitation agency, usually found under Rehabilitation or Vocational Rehabilitation in state-government listings in your phone book.
Under the Job Training Partnership Act, an employer can set up on-the-job training and be reimbursed for 50% of the first six months of the wages of an eligible disabled person. For more information contact your chamber of commerce.
More details on all of the above are available from the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities (1331 F St., NW, Washington, DC 20004-1107, 202-376-6200) in its free booklet Employer Incentives.