Over the past few years, there has been a lot more discussion about inclusion in the workplace. However, an aspect of this that is often overlooked is how businesses can be inclusive on individuals with disabilities. While the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requires reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, it’s not always clear what that looks like in practice. In addition to what’s legally required, what best practices can businesses utilize to make the workplace more welcoming and inclusive of people with disabilities? To answer this question, we are talking to business leaders who have unique insights on “How Businesses Make Accommodations For Customers and Employees Who Have a Disability.” As part of our series, we were delighted to interview Frank and Dawn Yeager.

Frank and Dawn Yeager, experts in accessibility, aging in place, and end-of-life property services, offer tailored solutions for residential and commercial properties. With Frank’s background in property inspection and Dawn’s personal journey as a quadriplegic, they understand the importance of inclusive design. Their comprehensive approach considers diverse needs, including those of their son Merlin, who has autism and ADHD. From accessibility modifications to compassionate end-of-life services, the Yeagers prioritize comfort, safety, and inclusivity in every space they touch.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you ended up where you are? 

Frank: I’ve spent my life in construction in one form or another. My dad was a heavy equipment mechanic and it wasn’t unusual for me at 11-years-old to be out on a jobsite helping him during the summer if he was working nearby. I was able to run dozers, excavators, and a bunch of other things before I was a teenager from helping my dad put them together and take them apart.

Outside of a stint in the Army during Operation Desert Storm, I’ve been a union heavy equipment operator while working on the side as a laborer for God only knows how many trade contractors. Most of them decided to teach me the trades because I was a go-getter. I would always be watching the tradesmen, asking questions, and pitching in whenever I was needed. I even worked full time when I went to Penn State for engineering.

I started a handyman business around 1997 when I was having trouble finding other work. I was a more traditional handyman because I did almost anything to make a buck. Thank God I had an easygoing landlord because it wasn’t unusual for there to be a piece of lawn equipment torn apart on the deck, some furniture on a tarp in the living room being repaired, and maybe a VCR or something in pieces on the kitchen table. Senior citizens loved me because I would try to fix almost anything they asked me to.

My construction company got going about five years later because contractors that I had worked for wanted me to subcontract jobs from them when they were really busy. It just kind of grew from there. When I met Dawn, I was working almost exclusively on my own jobs.

Dawn: I was injured in rollover car wreck as a passenger in 1987 about two weeks after graduating high school. That resulted in crushed vertebrae in my neck and the resulting scar tissue from swelling from trauma left me a C 5-6 quadriplegic.

Before my injury, I had been the captain of my high school majorette squad, a dancer and instructor at the local dance academy, and a member of 4-H. I had a horse and a pony and loved wandering in the woods. It was a really active life. I had an internship set up with a local doctor’s office because I was intent on becoming an ear, nose, and throat doctor.

After the wreck, I spent most of a year in rehab learning how to do very basic things. I’m very fortunate in that I have the ability to use my arms somewhat, though it’s limited and my fingers don’t work at all. But I was able to be in a manual wheelchair because I worked up to being able to push for myself.

Since I didn’t see how I could possibly continue in the medical field, I started taking night courses at the local university extension while working first as a receptionist and bookkeeper at the dance studio and then helping at a local accountant’s office. Over the next several years, I earned Bachelor’s Degrees in Business Administration, Accounting, and Management and I’m proud to be able to say that I graduated at the top of my class.

Looking for job security, I decided to seek work with the federal government. You would think that someone with a finance background would go to the IRS but, being from West Virginia, the FBI is more available so that’s where I went. I was hired into the Automated Correspondence Department where I needed to generate, review, and collate fingerprint records and I had a quota! Thankfully, I figured out ways to overcome my lack of finger movement and regularly exceeded those quotas.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before budget cuts forced the FBI to put out a RIF (Reduction In Force) list and, because of the “Last in, First out” policy, I was on it. With some help from coworkers, I began applying for other positions in the FBI. I even took and passed the FBI typing test by typing 45 words per minute using two pencils laced between my fingers. I wound up getting a job with the Financial Management Unit as well as multiple other positions over the next nine years.

In 2005, I was offered a position as Treasurer/Chief School Business Official at the county board of education but I turned it down for a variety of reasons. Things had changed when I was offered the position again in 2006 so I accepted the job. 

It was around the same time that Frank and I met on MySpace, of all places. We dated for a while and got married in October 2007.

I ended my employment with the Board of Education in the summer of 2009 and moved to the house Frank and I had purchased together. In January of 2011, we were blessed with our son Merlin.

Frank: As Dawn’s pregnancy progressed, it just got too difficult to keep jobs going. I tried hiring people to pick up the slack but it never worked out. I even got sued for the first time when a salesman defrauded someone using my company name. After I got everything sorted out, which was after Merlin was born, another salesman did the same thing to several people which wound up taking a few years to untangle.

By this time, my business had expanded. My main construction company was still doing residential and commercial construction and renovation projects. I had spun off a company to do commercial maintenance work because I was getting so many requests from retail stores, restaurants, and so on for someone local to handle smaller maintenance and repair tasks.

A conversation with a customer who also invested in real estate resulted in a company focused on helping investors turn over flips, improving buy-and-holds, handling tenant changeovers, and so on. Once some of them found out about my background, I also started troubleshooting projects that had run into trouble and consulting on getting them back on track.

Dawn: It was absolutely crazy! I had to learn how to handle the office work because Frank just didn’t have time to do it all himself. He was doing the work on some projects, managing the work on other jobs, going to meetings, and consulting with engineers, investors, and developers. He was almost dead on his feet!

I started just doing the books but I saw him running himself ragged and asked how I could help. Be careful what you wish for! The next thing I knew, I was on the phone doing sales calls, talking to customers, scheduling things and rescheduling things, and I have no idea how he managed to do it all himself for so long.

I had handled a finance department but I had no idea everything that was involved in running multiple companies. It was one heck of a learning curve, I can tell you.

Frank: At some point, one of my customers asked me if I did home modifications. I said I never had but was willing to look at the project. That started an entirely new line of business. People and organizations had trouble getting anyone to do the work because you wouldn’t get paid for months. Of course, I felt bad and got involved.

I had to limit the number of those projects I did simply because of time. Hiring people that did work to a high standard was challenging. Because of the nature of the work, there was an additional learning curve that most tradesmen didn’t want to be bothered to learn. So I did those projects myself and they were some of the most rewarding jobs I’ve ever done.

Dawn: Then the problems with the salesmen happened. Now we had to deal with attorneys and court dates and all the crap that goes along with the legal system. Frank insisted on taking care of the people that had been defrauded even though the money was long gone. When it was all over with, it cost tens of thousands of dollars to get all straightened out.

The Attorney General’s office got involved because the second guy had been doing the same thing to other people. It was just a mess. Some of the customers chose not to work with us, which was understandable but it made things really hard.

During my pregnancy and after Merlin was born, Frank had to devote a lot of time to helping me. He would have to come home during the day, help me, go back out to work, then come back and help me. He just wasn’t able to keep up with it all. So we decided to pause the business and then we closed it.

Frank: We had both just turned 40 when Merlin was born. I decided to do what my dad hadn’t been able to do and focused on not missing anything. When Dawn began having health problems, it became a no-brainer to close the business and devote my time to them.

When Merlin was a couple years old, I started working again as a heavy equipment operator, occasional project superintendent, and consultant. When he was diagnosed with Autism and ADHD, being able to focus more attention on his needs was a godsend. We got involved with the local Boy Scout troop after me being away from it for years. I really appreciated the freedom.

But we got restless. Dawn started working on getting the CPA and I started tinkering with different ideas. I wrote a children’s book and some other stuff. A realtor friend convinced me to get certified for property inspections which led to me realizing people needed help now more than ever. We talked it over and decided to start Yeagers Consulting and help people with all the stuff we’ve learned over the years.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Frank: For me, Boy Scouts and my military service were what has defined me, I think. If I had to pick, I’d say one is integrity. I’ve always used what I call the “Mirror Test”. I never want to struggle to look myself in the eye at the end of the day. So, I always do my best to keep my word and do everything to the best of my ability.

For example, I subcontracted a roofing job and then got a call from the homeowner. Rain had leaked in and damaged plaster on the inside and they were unhappy with the way the work was being done. So I brought in a plasterer to fix the damage and spoke to the roofer about my expectations regarding keeping a clean jobsite and not causing damage. When the job was done, there were so many minor issues that I called another roofer, paid him to tear off and replace the roof again, and gave the customer their deposit back as compensation for the trouble. 

I’m not judgmental. So much of life is very subjective and we can never entirely know what someone else has experienced. Why jump to conclusions based on such limited knowledge? I prefer to offer love and respect first and simply have boundaries regarding conduct.

The salesmen that committed the fraud are a great example. In both cases, their trouble started with a small mistake and snowballed through compounded poor decisions. That doesn’t make them bad people. It doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the consequences of their actions, but a lot of good people have fallen into the same trap.

And finally, I don’t let fear stop me from doing something. In fact, being afraid of something makes me more determined to do it. I’ve found that usually my mind has embellished how bad it actually is. Sometimes it’s that bad or worse but I always feel so much better when I’ve accomplished the thing I’m afraid of. 

I will never forget the first time I worked on a winch line. We were installing a gas pipeline in southern West Virginia where the hills are long and steep. My job involved drilling holes for blasting crews to come in and shoot out the rock that couldn’t be dug. Being in a 30-ton machine and getting lowered down the hill on a cable spooling off the back of a bulldozer is a little nerve-racking the first time. As I approached the crest of the hill, I couldn’t see anything past twenty feet in front of me.

I was utterly terrified. The entire time, as the crest of the hill got closer, I reviewed the fundamentals and focused on the bulldozer operator who had done this hundreds of times. My tracks went out over the edge and there was abso-freakin-lutely nothing visible in front of me but a couple thousand feet of down. Then the machine teetered and I had to let off the travel pedals and ease into the break over.

Boom. My tracks landed on solid ground and the dozer operator was grinning and nodding at me. I had done the hardest part and going the rest of the way to where the work was located was far easier.

Dawn: I’m not sure if you’d call it stubbornness or determination. My fingers don’t move so when I started college classes, everything about it was challenging. I had trouble getting books out of my bag, lifting them to a table or desk, opening them, turning pages, taking notes, you name it. Taking notes was a nightmare! I couldn’t keep up with the instructor, had trouble gripping the pen, and then my writing was nearly illegible. I was constantly playing catch up in class because I didn’t have any manual dexterity.

My father bought me a mini-cassette recorder but I couldn’t even operate it. There was a lot of crying. I spent hours every night going over the material and rewriting my notes. But I didn’t quit.

Instead, I experimented with different ways of doing things and practiced my butt off until I could keep up with the rest of the class.

Another would be kindness or understanding. A lot of people make assumptions about me because of my disability. In most cases it’s impossible for them to know anything about me or what life as a quadriplegic is like if they’re afraid to ask questions. I try to be open, within boundaries, about answering questions about my life and disability. Though I’m sometimes taken aback by the very personal things people feel it’s okay to ask about.

Little ones are the best! Just recently, we were at an event and there were a few little girls playing nearby. I think the oldest was eight. They kept looking at me and one finally came over, said hello, and asked about my wheelchair. I told her that I was in a really bad accident a long time ago and couldn’t walk anymore. However, I now have this super cool chair to help me get around. I can even tilt backward and take a nap, if I want to! Plus, it goes pretty fast. I think I made a few new friends that day.

The last would be resourcefulness. It goes along with having a hard head. Everyone has their own “life hacks.” I’ve gotten pretty good at coming up with ways to accomplish things I want to.

Like opening a pop can. I love Diet Coke! One weekend I was at work and no one else was there. I got a can of coke out of my bag and realized there was no one to help me open it. After a quick scan of my desk, I picked up my staple-puller and used it to pop the tab. It worked so well I keep one around all the time!

Can you share a story about one of your greatest work related struggles? Can you share what you did to overcome it? 

Frank: Well, it’s kind of backward because it’s how something I just do helped me get through it.

I had been brought in as a superintendent for an environmental company by a project manager to salvage a project that was deeply in the red. It wasn’t until I had been there for a couple months that I realized how much office politics affected everything. Several of the other people working there were unhappy about me being brought in and felt professionally threatened. So, unbeknownst to me, they began backstabbing like crazy.

Unfortunately, this culture was nurtured by upper management. I began to have these people visiting my jobsite and retasking work crews, “borrowing” equipment, and screwing with paperwork. Then they would report back to the office that my job was a mess and everything they “had to do” to straighten things out.

Meanwhile, I was only mildly irritated with all the machinations because I had systems in place with my crews. After the other superintendents had gone, my crews went back to doing what had been planned for the day. However, all the bad press got the Vice President’s attention.

What no one had realized was I had built amazing rapport with every secretary I had met. Everyone else ignored them, at best. So when the VP started asking questions, all my bases were covered and I was notified about what was going on. The day I heard him say that the project was back on track, which meant that I had fulfilled my obligation, I handed him my resignation. I also gave all the secretaries gift cards to their favorite restaurants.

Dawn: When I began working for the board of education, I discovered that none of the furniture would work for me. The footwell on the desk wouldn’t allow me to get up to the desk so I could work. I couldn’t use the filing cabinets because they were too tall and needed a button pushed to open the drawers. So all of the existing furniture needed to be replaced.

When I came back to my office, I found a complete mess! Everything that had been in and on the desk and filing cabinets had been tossed onto the floor! I was also told that they had no furniture that would accommodate me.

I ordered and bought my own desks and filing cabinets from an office supply store and my father brought it in and put it together. Then the ladies in my department helped me sort everything and put it away. After that, I developed systems for getting my work done so that I had access to everything I needed. It took some trial and error but I had a wonderful staff who were anxious to help.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Frank: We’re in the process of creating training for businesses that want to handle their own accessibility. We’re breaking it down into steps with videos and checklists. The most important thing to us is providing the information needed to be thorough without it being boring and monotonous.

Dawn: I met an awesome guy at a business event that we attended. He claims to have the largest database of health-related information in the country. His company works with people in sports to help improve performance and recover from injury. We’re talking about using me as a test case to help the disabled maximize their physical ability.

Fantastic. Let’s now shift to our discussion about inclusion. Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience working with initiatives to promote Diversity and Inclusion? Can you share a story with us? 

Frank: Our entire business is about helping businesses be more inclusive of those with disabilities. A lot of the trouble arises out of either misinformation or fear.

People aren’t clear as to the requirements of the federal ADA let alone state enacted forms. As a result, they tend to rely on unsound advice. One of the ones I hear most often is some form of, “This doesn’t apply to my business because compliance would be too expensive.” In the majority of cases, this isn’t true.

Barrier removal is required under federal law. A project may be too expensive to manage in a single year’s budget, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done at all. The federal government actually incentivizes you to do it through tax credits.

We promote identifying barriers and then creating a written, prioritized improvement plan that sets aside money for future improvements.

Dawn: It makes financial sense to make improvements. We outline things in a practical way so that a business does them in the order that they’re needed. That way you aren’t paying for things that aren’t utilized because of another barrier. Also, with a written plan, you’re better protected against ADA-related lawsuits.

The IRS rules allow for up to $20,000 in tax credits and incentives you can write off every year. Then, if you spend over that amount, you can apply the overage to the value basis of the building and depreciate it. There are other methods to deal with the depreciable amount to recover it faster.

The amounts aren’t just limited to construction, either. Consulting, engineering, and planning expenses are examples of other things that can be used to claim credits and incentives. 

Frank: The fear comes up in a few different ways.

For one, our culture has fostered a fear of causing offense. Unfortunately, offense is a feeling and, as such, it’s very subjective and so it’s almost impossible not to offend someone sometime. When a business owner is trying to figure out accommodation and barrier removal priorities, they’re going to have to ask disabled people and advocacy organizations about their limitations and what constitutes a barrier for them. It’s the only way to really find out.

Dawn: Business owners are also afraid of the business impact of hiring people with disabilities. They’re concentrating on monetary impact most of the time and forgetting potential positive impacts.

As I mentioned, many things can be written off yearly taxes directly. Most reasonable accommodation items can be accomplished for under $1000. It’s not really as scary as people tend to think.

More importantly, the positive impact to company identity, reputation, and culture are orders of magnitude higher than any expense.

This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have an inclusive work culture?

Dawn: Depending on which census you reference, somewhere around 20-25% of the population is disabled in some way. That’s a pretty big potential talent pool to disregard. Focusing on qualifications instead of physical ability can impact a company well beyond culture.

Just imagine if someone would have disqualified Stephen Hawking based on his disability! Inclusivity fosters an overall attitude that everyone has value.

Frank: A comparison that comes to mind is schools. When we went to school, you rarely saw kids in “Special Education.” They were mostly kept segregated from the rest of the students.

Our son was diagnosed with ASD and ADHD when he was around three-years-old. When he went into kindergarten, I discovered that “mainstreaming” had been adopted and saw a dramatic effect. Not only were disabled kids positively impacted by inclusion into regular classrooms in a variety of ways including modeling and peer support. Kids in general seemed to take disabilities in stride. There was nothing remarkable to them about it!

That’s not to say they lacked empathy. Quite the opposite! They proactively offered support when and where they saw it was needed. How to behave with disabled people has become instinctual for them.

This is the workforce and customer of the future and they are going to expect inclusion and will tend to react negatively to companies and brands that do not have that culture.

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requires businesses to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. For the benefit of our readers, can you help explain what this looks like in practice? What exactly are reasonable accommodations? Can you please share a few examples? 

Dawn: A reasonable accommodation is any adjustment a business makes to allow an employee to perform their required duties with same ease as an able-bodied person. That covers a lot of possibilities.

For instance, a couple of jobs I’ve worked have allowed me to work remotely for the most part. In-office duties were scheduled once or twice a week and I otherwise worked from home. Some jobs might require additional technology for security but most jobs can be remote or hybrid as we’ve seen thanks to COVID.

As I mentioned, special furniture might be required. I bought all my furniture at a regular big box office supply store. Otherwise, it was just a matter of how the furniture was situated. Like I said earlier, it isn’t necessarily expensive at all.

Sometimes it’s minor adjustments to tasking and work flow. For instance, at the board of education for one, when someone was getting printer paper, running copies, or running an errand, they would stop on their way by my door to ask if I needed something. It took little to no extra time for them to handle.

Frank: In most cases, reasonable accommodation is very simply implemented. For example, an accountant I know asked me about what would be reasonable accommodation for a part-time employee. He explained that this gentleman was in a power wheelchair and didn’t fit under any of the desks or tables.

I suggested that he look at standing desks. There are many models that are adjustable and allow sufficient height to accommodate a power chair. There was some fine-tuning required but it worked so well that other employees requested standing desks as well. The unexpected side effect is that the workplace culture has adopted the health-related benefits that standing desks encourage.

Aside from what is legally required, what are some best practices that can make a business place feel more welcoming and inclusive of people with disabilities? If you can, please share a few examples. 

Dawn: Inclusive spaces tend to be more welcoming for everyone! They’re less congested and cluttered.

For instance, break rooms and cafeterias have more room around tables. Not only can a person in a wheelchair get through but it makes it easier for blind and able-bodied people to navigate. No one has to worry about spilling hot food on someone because they were trying to squeeze between chairs.

At the board of education, maintenance staff brought cases of paper to resupply. Rather than determining what was actually needed, they would bring a truckload and leave the excess in the hallway. Not only was it a pain for me to get around because not only did it block part of the hallway but it was right by the only accessible entrance. One day one of the secretaries tripped on a plastic band and broke her collarbone!

Frank: Another thing might be eliminating decorative rugs. They’re murder for a person in a wheelchair but also present a trip hazard for lots of other people. 

Removing excess furniture. I’ve lost track of how many times a decorative table was in the way of elevator controls or just creating a bottleneck in a hallway. 

I would also include adding push-button automatic doors. So many places don’t have them and they’re so easy to implement. Again, it’s not just wheelchair-users that benefit. People on crutches, with walkers, or even strollers and carts find it much easier to navigate.

Can you share a few examples of ideas that were implemented at your workplace to help promote disability inclusion? Can you share with us how the work culture was impacted as a result?

Frank: Our lives are an example of inclusion. It’s something we live with every day. We know quite a few people with a variety of disability types and we try to take all of them into account. Meeting and dating Dawn opened an entire world for me. Like most people, I had never had to consider accessibility and rarely noticed its lack. Now I see it instinctively and without effort.

Dawn: Accessibility doesn’t necessarily require more space. It simply requires a more thoughtful use of the available space. It also requires a mindset that eliminates the unnecessary. That said, more open space versus crowding in as much and as many people per square foot as possible creates a more welcoming and enjoyable environment for everyone.

This is our signature question that we ask in many of our interviews. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Started My Career”? (Please share a story or example for each.)


1. Make time for friends and family—there is always going to be more work than you have time so don’t ignore friends and family in favor of work.

2. Find mentors—look for people who have been doing what you want to do at a high level and benefit from their experience and insights.

3. Perfection is impossible—much of the frustration in my life has come as a result of once having been able to do so much myself and then finding everything so difficult. I’ve had to learn that some things I can do myself and other things I have to ask for help.

4. Don’t be afraid to innovate—sometimes a “whoops!” is the next big thing. Serendipity is real.

5. Get your CPA right after college—you’ll never be more prepared once you start to specialize.


1. The road less traveled usually has better scenery—blazing your own trail can be scary and lonely as hell but you’ll rarely regret it.

2. “That’s the way we’ve always done it” is the worst possible reason to do something—hen you can’t innovate on something anymore it’s probably time to do something else entirely.

3. Forget the dumb stuff—that’s a cleaned up version of what my former Sergeant Major once told me. You can’t control everything or know all the variables so go with what you’ve got and adjust on the fly.

4. Everybody has a story, and you can never know all of it, so be kind—too many people spend way too much time judging others because they’re afraid to look at themselves.

5. Shut up and listen—learn the art of giving people your full attention until you can hear what they say and what they don’t say so that they feel like the most important person in the world to you in that moment. It’s amazing what you learn!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story about how that was relevant in your own life? 


“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell

Every time I have thought I had everything figured out and thoroughly planned, I’ve gotten knocked sideways and had to start all over again. What is it they say? “Wanna make God laugh? Tell him you have a plan.” That’s been the story of my life. Sometimes wonderful and sometimes less than wonderful, but always unexpected.


“Well done is better than well said.” – Benjamin Franklin

I don’t tend to be someone who sits and talks something to death until I’ve got way more energy tied up in the talking than I would have expended if I’d just gotten up and done the damn thing. My favorite comparison is listening to two teenagers, young men, and some grown men circling one another, fists raised, and just growling and snarling at each other until they forget what they were mad about to begin with. I hate that. It’s utterly moronic.

I prefer to sketch out a plan, consider what might go wrong, then go full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes. What ifs are met with scorn and when things go wrong, I find a solution. That’s just how I am. It scares my wife to death all the time.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂 

We’ve talked at length about our desire to see a more accessible society nationwide, but there’s more that we think we can do.

Part of our mission is to fund the nonprofit we started. Abiding Abode was founded to help veterans, their families, the elderly, and the disabled with home maintenance and repair.

So many people suffer due to an inability to keep up with the demands of their houses, from steadily worsening living conditions up to the loss of their homes. We want to give people the security of knowing their houses are safe, secure, and well-maintained. We have committed to donating a portion of the profits of Yeagers Consulting to support that mission.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Our website is yeagersconsulting.com and we can be found on LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube at the moment.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!