For more than three decades, until it closed last December, Chilmark Chocolates was the Island’s model employer of workers with disabilities. But as former co-owner Mary Beth Grady said this week, it’s far from the only Martha’s Vineyard business to include employees with special needs.

“I look around and almost everyone who’s here hires people (inclusively),” Ms. Grady said at a breakfast meeting for employers, hosted Wednesday by the Island Disability Coalition at the regional high school.

“The savings bank (Martha’s Vineyard Bank) has a long history of including people. Morning Glory Farm has hired people for years. The hospital has been a go-to employer,” Ms. Grady said.

She also noted South Mountain Company, Island Grown Initiative, the Vineyard Transit Authority and the school system for their inclusive hiring, and Misty Meadows Equine Learning Center for its therapeutic riding program.

Representatives of all these employers, as well as from the Edgartown and West Tisbury town halls and community education nonprofit ACE MV, joined disability coalition members over breakfast at the high school’s culinary arts center to talk about how they can better accommodate workers with special needs.

While Chilmark Chocolates was seen as a haven for its employees—always called “co-workers” by Ms. Grady and her partner, Allison Berger—over the decades since it was founded the Island has gained more resources for people with disabilities, Ms. Grady said.

“It was before Community Services had work going on. It was before the Seven Hills organization had a day program for people. So what we started was partially because we worried about loneliness, and having a group of people work together, 30 to 40 years ago, was important,” she said.

“I’m not sure that’s the model of 2020,” Ms. Grady continued. “I don’t think that people should feel the need to replicate what happened at Chilmark Chocolates.”

An Island-wide survey conducted by the disability coalition last year indicated that 90 per cent of Vineyard residents with disabilities want to work, and 70 per cent would prefer to work where the majority of their fellow employees don’t have disabilities, coalition member Dick Cohen told the breakfast group.

Forty per cent of the willing workers would prefer to put in more than 20 hours a week, Mr. Cohen said.“Especially given the labor shortage here on the Island, we think this is a huge untapped resource.”

Significant tax advantages are available for employers who hire inclusively, Mr. Cohen told the group.

“Forty per cent of an individual’s salary for a year can be written off as a tax credit,” he said.

Employers can also reap tax credits for adding adaptive equipment to the workplace.

Mr. Cohen, an attorney specializing in disability law, emphasized that federal and state statutes do not require employers to hire people who can’t do the work given reasonable accommodations.

“The person has to be qualified for the job,” he said.

The Island Disability Coalition organized Wednesday’s breakfast meeting as part of its continuing outreach to the Martha’s Vineyard community, coordinator Beth Wike said.

The coalition, representing a broad range of Island organizations and individuals, was founded in 2017 as an initiative of Martha’s Vineyard Community Services but exists outside the MVCS umbrella.

“We are a true community coalition,” Ms. Wike said. Its website is