This is a letter to the IndyStar by Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President and CEO, RespectAbility.
Hiring people with disabilities benefits Indiana
This October, Indiana has good reason to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Last year, 5,329 Hoosiers with disabilities found new jobs. People with disabilities deserve equal opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence just like anyone else.
In total, there are 485,824 working-age Hoosiers with disabilities. That includes people who are blind or deaf or have other conditions such as spinal cord injuries, as well as people with invisible disabilities. Of that number, 175,379 have jobs. According to RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization that advances opportunities for people with disabilities, Indiana ranks 27th compared to the rest of the country.
Back in May 2017, Gov. Eric Holcomb sign a new Employment First law, creating new opportunities for people with disabilities to get jobs. Indiana also has a special program called the Randolph-Sheppard Business Enterprise Program that links blind people to training. They also offer Project SEARCH for high school students, which provides them with experience in retail, technology, museums, finance and more. These programs are offered in Indianapolis, Princeton, Bloomington, Newburgh, LaPorte, South Bend, Carmel and Terre Haute.
When people with disabilities are given access to the workforce, both the individual and the employers benefit. Companies such as JP Morgan Chase, Coca-Cola, UPS, IBM, Starbucks and Walgreens practice inclusive hiring and have had great success.
Hoosiers with disabilities bring unique characteristics and talents to the workplace. They can work in hospitals and hotels, or apply their talents to develop computer software and website design. There are no limits to what they can do.
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi
President and CEO, RespectAbility