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Do You Employ Those With Disabilities?

I spent the day visiting a couple of different service providers that serve adults with disabilities. There are some incredible leaders working hard to do great things in the disability community. I learned a lot, and some of it was not easy to process. The Illinois service system is underfunded and fragmented with few inclusive opportunities for people with disabilities. These are our most vulnerable citizens, but we can influence the number and quality of the opportunities that are available to them.

What can we ALL DO: Each time you go into a business, school, hospital, or community agency, ask - “Do you employ those with disabilities, and if not, will you consider making that happen within the next six months?”

Simple. I will throw my money and support at businesses that embrace a diverse workforce whenever I have the choice. Send business to those companies that value diverse hiring practices. Listening to the difficulty that providers have in getting ANY community employment placements in our area was so disheartening.

This is fixable. With the number of employers in every community, there is no reason that parents and service providers find themselves unable to find opportunities for those that they are working with. People with disabilities want and deserve to be included in their communities in jobs that are interesting and engaging - just like the rest of us. Please, inquire with your own employer. Let them know there are resources to help them make the employment of those with disabilities successful and beneficial for all.

Lastly, consider supporting your local school by offering employment opportunities for young adults in the transition programs. Encourage your schools to find job placements that feed student’s interests and long-term plans. Not all students want to work in food service and janitorial work. For those that do, that can easily be accomplished within the current system. But, there are so many other options within schools... school theaters, athletics programs, libraries, childcare programs, grounds keeping programs, secretarial options, sports programs - expectation and opportunity begins within the schools. Push for more options.

We will not get what we do not ask for.

Keep asking.... “Do you employ those with disabilities?”

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