October honors National Disability Employment Awareness Month for the 70th year, a milestone for contributions to the country’s workforce by employing individuals with disabilities. 2015’s campaign, “Who I Am” strives for further accomplishments for employees with disabilities and their successful outcomes.
As new policy changes move individuals with disabilities from sheltered workshops into mainstream work settings, challenges in the transition process are varied for both the employee and employer.
Prospective employers are faced with hiring from a new talent pool, not knowing exactly what expectations they should have, but should keep in mind that a disability is only one part of who the person is, thus “Who I Am.”
Additionally, employers should be cognizant of the benefits of hiring people with disabilities, realizing they aren’t defined by their disability, and often bring value to the job others may not.
Employment is critical to improving the quality of life for individuals with disabilities, and yet we still see a huge disparity between actual employment and wages for them.
“Solutions to wage equality and employment for those with disabilities are complex and continue to point out the perpetual work that needs to be done to create a better understanding of needs, as well as incentives for employers.”
At Opengate our programs and services add to the vision of our clients, assisting them to reach their full potential. We applaud employers and mentors who inspire successful outcomes for individuals with disabilities and play an integral part in their future.
A few bits of positive advice for employers to help ease the transition, especially those who are hiring people with disabilities for the first time:
- Give them a chance, the first step.
- Be clear with your expectations.
- Study their strengths and weaknesses and find tasks which compliment those strengths.
- Don’t underestimate their abilities.
- Compassion, kindness and patience acknowledges their humanity.
- Be direct, honest and inclusive towards building a connection with the whole person.
Learning about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities is a way to expand and enhance a business, small or large. Contributing to building skills, ending discrimination, and sharing in successful outcomes can be a rewarding experience for all.
Opengate is a leader in its field and is recognized by New York State as one of only nine like agencies among thousands that have earned a prestigious emerging Compass designation.