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Is Your Next Successful New Hire an Adult with Disabilities?
by Kyle VonRuden, Benefits Consultant & Principal

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 61 million adults in the United States have some type of disability. 
Of people with a disability:
  • 13.7 percent have a mobility disability with serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs.
  • 10.8 percent have a cognition disability with serious difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions.
  • 6.8 percent have an independent living disability with difficulty doing errands alone.
  • 5.9 percent are deaf or have serious difficulty hearing.
  • 4.6 percent have a vision disability with blindness or serious difficulty seeing even when wearing glasses.
  • 3.6 percent have a self-care disability with difficulty dressing or bathing.
The overarching focus of this article is to expand awareness to employers of the tremendous benefits to hiring adults with disabilities. It is with personal experience, personal interest and personal belief that adults with disabilities have the same right as anyone else to participate in employment opportunities. The general statistics are above, but the remaining portion of this article will briefly summarize why employing an adult with disabilities is an excellent opportunity not only for the individuals themselves, but for the culture that exists within an organization.

Through what’s termed “supported employment,” many not-for-profit agencies partner with employers to provide assistance in the following: (1) screening job candidates, (2) job training, (3) effective accommodations and (4) transportation arrangements.  These supported employment agencies work to co-develop an effective employer/employee relationship by assessing the individual’s and their families’ needs and desires.  Job coaches, who are employed by supported agencies, provide the in-person support for an individual with a disability.  This support allows the employee their chance to move from dependence on a “service system” to independence through true private employment while improving their skills and confidence.

In a nutshell, people with disabilities are often very dependable employees with excellent attendance and commitment to their roles in the workplace. When I asked our co-worker at Hausmann-Johnson Insurance what her favorite thing about being here is, she simply stated, “I like meeting new people and getting to know them.” It’s fascinating to see the overall benefit to the company when employing an adult with a disability, regardless of their ability level. Companies will find these amazing individuals break down some of the uncertain and natural barriers that exist because of the lack of exposure to working with them. There is no doubt, workers with disabilities will increase diversity in the workplace.  Employees working with these individuals will gain the awareness to a more inclusive and cohesive environment.  Employees with disabilities have the skills to mentor their colleagues on problem solving and overcoming small challenges that might have seemed too big to overcome before.

I encourage all employers to explore hiring a supported employee. You’ll provide an individual with a disability an opportunity for increased independence and all your employees will benefit from a more inclusive and diverse organizational culture.  Stay tuned for more blogs pertaining to this important subject.
Information Sources:

Work Plus, Inc. - www.workplus.org
CDC - https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/infographic-disability-impacts-all.html
Potential Tax Benefits - https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/tax-benefits-for-businesses-who-have-employees-with-disabilities
Prior article in SHRM - https://shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/Pages/4wells-the%20demographics%20of%20disabilities.aspx
Job Accommodation Network (JAN) Article: https://askjan.org/topics/costs.cfm
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