“See the person, not the disability”, News and Star, www.newsandstar.co.uk
WASTED SKILL SETS, TALENTS, OVERLOOKED RESOURCES IN DISABLED POPULATIONS:
Approximately one month ago, I enthusiastically rolled into the Challenge Center for my regular work-out. I was happy to be there; however, my energy soon lessened when I listened to the sad story of a friend and longtime client of the gym. Nick had just learned that he would no longer be paid for the good work he was doing at the job where he has worked for many years. Despite many good evaluations and positive comments from supervisors, it seems that budget cuts were most easily effected by cutting earnings from handicapped workers, especially if the work occurred during hours of a day program. Wait–what? He still has to work, but he will not get paid? How is that fair? Nick was upset about this for weeks, but the saddest part for me is to realize that it happened because he is handicapped, and this injustice can happen to any of us because disabled persons have a more difficult time standing up for ourselves and fighting for our rights. Some businesses are benefiting from the hard work of disabled people, and the disabled people deserve to be paid for their efforts.
There are many people with disabilities who want to have a job–myself included. I would very willingly train for a job, but have not found any programs that will actually train me, though three day programs placed me in buildings where I sat for hours with a job coach who sat next to me, one of them falling asleep on a daily basis. My first program placed me in a job at a hospital. At first I was nervous and afraid that I could not do the job. I began with small things–validating parking and greeting people. I grew to love the job, and looked forward to learning more, but then, for no explanation, the job ended. I later found out that my day program took our group of three clients out of the job because one of us (not me) did not qualify for the job. I am still disappointed to know that I was forced to leave a job because someone else did not qualify for the job. The director could have rearranged the groups, but I remained with the group of three rather than the job. . . .At another day program, I shredded paper and stuffed envelopes, but that is as far as the opportunity went. I am reasonably intelligent and I know that I could have learned to do something more meaningful.
I wanted to obtain some information about how many disabled people have jobs and found the above illustration in Google Images, which claims that only two out of eight handicapped people have jobs.
I wanted to include more research with proper citations. I found the following graphs in Google Images, which contain information of dates and reporting agencies:
The chart above by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the largest percentage of employed persons with disabilities occurs in the age group of 25 to 34; maybe there is hope for me as this is my age group. However, the discrepancies in opportunities for disabled persons is obvious.
Table A-6, Economic News Released, June, 2017, shows 5,773 persons with a disability are employed as compared to 148,313 persons with no disability. Sadly, the number of disabled persons employed by this ratio goes down for the year 2018 as follows: 5,645 persons with a disabilities compared to 150,820 persons with no disability. The data depicted on the chart reveals comparisons in multiple categories for civilian populations by sex, age, and disability status. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov
I believe that everyone should be as productive as possible in their lives. Many people with disabilities want to work, to do something useful and meaningful. There are many things that we can do; everyone has some skills to bring to the work place–even those with learning disabilities have strengths which can be accessed to do good. This work can help others. It does not have to pay a lot, but any amount can make the life of a disabled person better, even if it pays for a cell phone bill, a movie, an app, or music from iTunes. The point is to utilize the talents of people which are currently being wasted and to provide dignity and a sense of integrity to individuals who might otherwise just be sitting around and costing money to the tax payers. Not all persons with disabilities will be able to work or do a lot, but many can and will. I would rather work than be babysat.
In closing, I urge employers to consider hiring people with disabilities to enhance the work place. If someone is currently lacking a skill that you seek, please consider offering training, with or without pay to start. No one’s talent should be wasted. Everyone deserves a chance.