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People with disabilities need employer support

BY RANDAL SCHOBER

According to a recent report by the U.S. Department Bureau of Labor Statistics, 23 percent of the labor work force is composed of people with a wide range of disabilities. Even so, many people living with disabilities are still excluded from the workplace. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and now is the time to examine how to ensure all disabled Americans become vital and thriving members of the work force.

Even though a person with a disability can possess compatible skills and experience in a professional field, the simplest needs, such as having available transportation, can limit their ability to join the work force. Employers can help employees make the transition back into the work force by implementing effective employment policies and practices that increase opportunities for disabled workers, and by creating an inclusive work culture that welcomes the skills and talents of all qualified employees.

Many disabled individuals want to return to work and also participate in the same leisure-time activities they once enjoyed. Unfortunately, they are often limited by a lack of equipment and services needed to gain greater mobility and return to an active and productive lifestyle.

It is important that disabled workers have access to the necessary support and services for a successful transition back into the work force.

There are many organizations that provide financial assistance to purchase assistive devices and equipment designed to increase mobility and enhance quality of life for the disabled. There are also registries of resources that disabled workers can utilize for a successful transition back into the work force, including job training and education, accessible transportation, computers and adaptive software.

With support from employers and the community, more disabled workers can be active, contributing members of today’s work force.

Randal Schober is executive director of the HeadNorth Foundation, a Del Mar-based nonprofit foundation that provides essential support and guidance to individuals and families affected by spinal cord injury (SCI), while championing a cure for paralysis; www.headnorth.org.