Finding Purpose in the Day-to-Day: Disabilities in the Workplace

Work, for many Americans, is a chore or necessary evil. Many of us spend a few minutes each day thinking about all of the other things we could be doing with our time if only we didn’t have to work to pay our bills and provide for our families.

However, while the sense of purpose that comes from having gainful employment is something that many Americans take for granted, the opposite can hold true for individuals with disabilities. Employment provides people with disabilities with income, self-sufficiency, and social contact that they may not have other opportunities to enjoy otherwise. For individuals with disabilities, steady employment is good for health and wellbeing, contributes to happiness, helps build confidence and self-esteem. Work also provides challenges, the opportunity for personal development, and a sense of pride and personal achievement. Employees with disabilities know that no task, no matter how menial or small, is without its challenges and its rewards.

Having employees with disabilities is also a benefit to employers. The U.S. Department of Labor report “Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact” found that free or inexpensive accommodations for employees with disabilities resulted in higher employee retention, improved productivity and morale (even amongst those employees that did not utilize the accommodations), and increased diversity. Employees with disabilities were also reported to be loyal, reliable, and hardworking by their employers.

Despite all of the benefits, people with disabilities face a number of barriers to employment. The Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in hiring practices and workplace policies, has helped by allowing individuals with disabilities to request reasonable accommodations from potential employers. Nonetheless, the unemployment rate of people with disabilities has only marginally improved over the course of the past 25 years.

As a result, some organizations have begun providing programs to provide job training and employment placement opportunities for people with disabilities. Crawfordsville’s own Abilities Services is one of those entities, providing opportunities with individuals with disabilities who are seeking employment but need assistance in locating, applying for, training, and maintaining a job. ASI Employment and Training Specialists (ETS) work with individuals to identify job-related strengths and interests in order to place our consumers in roles where they will be successful. Once placed in a job, our consumers continue to receive support from ASI to ensure that they have the right skills to thrive in their new work location.

Abilities Services has worked with local employers to provide placements at local businesses including hotels, fast food restaurants, highway rest parks, and more. These jobs allow our consumers to serve as productive and engaged members of the community, and the income they earn through their work allows them to shop, dine, and enjoy local events and attractions in the Crawfordsville area. This, in turn, helps out consumers achieve their highest potential and enjoy life where they live, learn, work, and play. If you know of someone who would benefit from ASI’s Employment Service program, please contact Vocational Rehabilitation Services at 877-847-9892.

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What is a Disability?

The definition of a developmental disability includes, but is not limited to: an intellectual disability, autism, cerebral palsy, a severe head injury that occurred before the age of 22, or a severe seizure disorder.

 

Under federal law, "developmental disability" means a severe, chronic disability of an individual that:

 

  • attributable to a mental or physical impairment or combination of mental and physical impairments
  • manifests before the individual attains age 22
  • is likely to continue indefinitely
  • results in substantial functional limitations in three or more of the following areas of major life activity:
    • self care
    • receptive and expressive language
    • learning
    • reflects the individual's need for a combination and sequence of special, interdisciplinary, or generic services, individualized supports, or other forms of assistance that are of lifelong or extended duration and are individually planned and coordinated.
    • economic self-sufficiency; and
    • capacity for independent living
    • self-direction
    • mobility

 

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615 N. 18th Suite 203
Lafayette, Indiana 47904
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Crawfordsville, IN 47933

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Frankfort, Indiana 46041
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