Sock Talk- Employment and People With Disabilities

Inspiring life despite a diagnosis

Mar 23 2020 • 9 mins

Even though the country has a record low employment rate of 2-3 percent, people with disabilities have an unemployment rate of 65 percent. Why is this?  In this Podcast Gerald talks about with proper training, coaching, and job matching, people with disabilities are able to become dedicated employees. Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities Unemployment Rates There are 48.9 million people in the US with at least one form of a disability.  65 percent of those are unemployed. With the national unemployment average at 2-3 percent, it’s shocking that people with disabilities have an unemployment rate so high.   There are several reasons someone with a disability could be unemployed.  Some perhaps don’t want to work, for some it’s an accessibility issue, and for others it could be an issue of training.   Why Not Hire Someone with a Disability? There are several jobs out there that someone with a disability could do if given the proper training.  For instance, sorting hangers at a clothing store, janitorial work, cleaners, or stock clerks. None of these jobs are made up, they require somebody to do them.  Given the right training and matching of skills, somebody with a disability could fill those needs. Using Their Strengths to Help People with Disabilities Find Employment Gerald shared a wonderful example of employing someone with a disability.  Bob is on the autism spectrum and loves to sort things. Bob rarely speaks and has episodes of self-injurious behaviors or aggressive behaviors towards others.   At first you might think Bob is unemployable.  However, with some creativity and using what skills Bob has, he found the perfect job.  Bob sorts maps for the Forest Service. He is great at it, it doesn’t require communication with others while sorting, and his aggressive behaviors are non-existent while he is sorting. How do People with Disabilities Find Employment? There are organizations like RISE, Orange Socks’ parent company, that have contracted with the state to supply supported employment.  RISE has staff who contact businesses and explore their needs and how someone with a disability could fulfill those needs. When the person is placed in the job, they get a job coach who shadows the client making sure they perform the required task.  At first that shadowing could be full-time, but then it’s gradually faded to a point where they no longer need a job coach.