by Kathy Clemente and Brian Trees, Gallagher Services

The recent labor market report shows that there are more open jobs than people being hired. Since the report came during Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, we wondered: Would you hire a person with a disability?

Each person with a disability has opinions, ideas and dreams. Each belongs in their communities, active, engaged and employed.

Self-worth and work

Adult with intellectual disability at work

Adults with disabilities can be one of a business’ great assets

Most of us get a sense of self-worth from working. Our work contributes to our identity and makes us part of a community. The same is true for persons with disabilities, but they are less likely to find a job, even with skills and capabilities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017, the overall unemployment rate for persons with disabilities was 9.2 percent—more than twice as high as that for persons without disabilities.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Many persons with disabilities can work productively. The people we support at Gallagher Services are working for competitive wages, planning for careers, apprenticing, and going throughtaking part in formal training programs, learning soft skills, and , creating business plans, and working for competitive wages.

How can you help?

First and foremost: remember that the person you are talking with is a person with a disability, not a disabled person. Respect him or her as an individual, rather than a lesser person or a cause to be championed. Assume he or she is capable of performing a task, and ask first before trying to help.

Here are a few other ways:

Provide opportunities
There may be a job, or some part of a job, that adults with disabilities can do. Like any other member of your staff, a person with a disability can be a business asset; it’s worth investing in a person who pays extraordinary attention to detail, is precise, stays diligent, is reliable, or is warm and friendly to others. In some cases, a person with a disability has more flexibility in their work schedule, as well.

Share leads
Persons with disabilities benefit from networking, just like you do. If you don’t have a possible opening, but you know someone who does, make the connection. Warm leads are very helpful. If you can’t make an introduction, offer to review a résumé or business plan.

Customize jobs
We can visit your business to learn what you do, what works, and where you need help. Then we can help customize jobs for persons with disabilities that offers meaningful work to someone we support while freeing up some of your staff’s time, attention and energy. Contact us today if you are interested!