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Letter to the Editor: Disabilities can create barriers; the workplace shouldn’t be one

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Dear editor,

When a business is asked about hiring a person who has a disability, the conversation most often includes something about it being the right thing to do. But this shouldn’t be the primary reason a business hires a person with a disability.

The person should be hired for their ability to do the job and for what they can bring to the company.

In 2016, the percent of people with disabilities in the United States was 12.8 percent. Half of those people were in the employable ages of 18-64, but only 35.9 percent of those people were employed.

Historically, people with disabilities typically haven’t been the first candidates considered when a business is hiring for a position. This means many of those people remained unemployed or worked in segregated environments, often for less than minimum wage. Businesses and disability provider organizations are working to change this.

While a disability can create barriers for a person, once those barriers are addressed, the person’s strengths and talents can be an asset for a business. Businesses with large amounts of their workforce made up of people with disabilities report an increase in productivity and the amount of quality work produced. They also report that having an inclusive workforce has improved their public image, customer satisfaction and employee morale.

For more information on the benefits of hiring people with disabilities, creating an inclusive workforce and serving an inclusive customer base, please attend the professional development workshop, How Businesses Benefit from Disability Inclusion by the Ozarks Inclusion Partnership. [Editor’s note: The event is scheduled 7:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m. March 8 at the efactory; tickets are $35 apiece.]

—Amanda Line and Elizabeth Obrey, The Arc of the Ozarks


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