Persons with disabilities (PWDs) are those whose brains are wired differently or possess physical deficiencies. They have special needs and conditions that may not fit the systems set by standard public facilities such as schools and workplaces.
While there are laws in place for the protection of PWDs, there’s more to do to promote an all-inclusive workplace. In 2018, for instance, the unemployment rate for disabled persons was pegged at eight percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This figure is twice the figure for its non-PWD counterparts.
If you or someone you know is a PWD looking to find employment, this article would discuss what you can do to get started.
What Is A Disability?
Based on the definition coming from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), disability is ‘anyone with a physical or mental impairment substantially limiting life activities.’
Further, this term includes persons who’ve been found to have such an impairment but don’t have the disability concurrently. Individuals who don’t have a disability but are deemed as having it are also included.
Disabilities affect a person’s physical and mental functions, including the following:
- Mental health
- Social relationships
As you may have noticed, disabilities are no longer confined to physical deficiencies only. Neurodiversity or variations in the human brain are considered disabilities, too. The most common conditions associated with neurodiversity include dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and the autism spectrum.
Guiding PWDs Toward Employment
More businesses need to implement an extensive workforce that includes persons with disabilities because they’re a large human resource pool waiting to be tapped. Here are some ways to help PWDs be employed:
- Be Active in Campaigning for PWDs’ Rights
There’s an estimate of about 10 million persons with disabilities of working age in the United States, and they’re more than eager to share their skills and knowledge to make businesses better. PWDs have career aspirations and they’re no different from those functioning normally.
Know what specific issues PWDs are facing when it comes to employment. Be supportive in looking for a business environment that’s willing to accommodate the diverse population of people with disabilities.
- Find Out About PWD Employment Programs
Local governments have different programs aimed at supporting persons with disabilities. Here are some of them:
- Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP)
This is a recruitment and referral program integrating PWDs at the college level or fresh graduates. This also includes the federal, public, and private sector employers looking for temporary or permanent jobs. Most universities and community colleges offer these programs to qualified students.
Alternatively, consider checking out career sites for persons with disabilities if applications are filled or if your loved one isn’t qualified for this program.
- Individualized Education Program (IEP)
If you’re a person with a disability or if you know someone, you can ask program administrators to prepare you for employment early on. IEP is offered to public schools in the US to offer special education identifying the student’s academic goals and how to achieve these. If you’re a parent of a child with a disability, it’s best to keep this in mind.
- Encourage a PWD To Apply At An Early Age
One of the ways to increase employability is to gain work experience early on. This is true for all individuals and not just for persons with special needs. That being said, have your child or a PWD friend volunteer to have a paid job.
Ask your network for referrals of companies and businesses open to hiring PWDs. Working temporary jobs can help build valuable skills needed for future employment such as customer service, time management, and being a team player, among others.
- Network With PWD Support Groups
Whether members of a non-government organization pushing for PWD rights or key business players, it always pays to expand your network of personalities supportive of the cause. These people are well-aware of the struggles faced by PWDs in terms of employability, and they can help you find job opportunities.
If this doesn’t work, remind businesses they stand to benefit in hiring PWDs as they’re eligible for tax deductions. Besides, the Anti-Discrimination Law, which protects a group of specific persons including PWDs, is in place. Any breaches to this can lead to a potential lawsuit or a costly settlement.
As a person with a disability or having a loved one who has the condition, there’s a lot of work to be done. Part of it is making the public realize PWDs have special needs, and they need to be supported.