Rod's Corner

November 20, 2011

BEING DISABLED AND UNEMPLOYED

Filed under: Personal — summer9797 @ 11:07 am

My current job is as an Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. The mission of our agency is to assist those with physical and/or mental disabilities find employment.

My specific duties are to interview perspective clients. I then collect information from medical doctors, psychologist etc. to determine if their stated disability is the reason they have trouble entering the work force, maintaining employment or reentering the work force.

If they are determined eligible. They are then referred to a not for profit agency that will assist them in finding employment. At this point it is my duty make sure they are served in a timely manner. I then create an employment plan which will enable them to work with a person from the not for profit agency to find employment. Basically, I make sure the chosen goal is practical considering their disability and one which they will find success. My role then is to make sure that agency is paid for helping them find employment. Finally, and most importantly my job is to monitor progress of the case. When a problem arises it is my duty to resolve the issue.

If you are disabled there is a very good chance you are unemployed. Statistics show that 82% of the nondisabled population is employed while only52% of the disabled population is employed. That is a gap of over 30%.

Why are those with disabilities unemployed? Could it be that we have a society that does not value the disabled enough to include them in employment opportunities. In 2003 Rutgers University did research asking employers why they rarely higher the disabled. A full one-third of the employers said that they felt the disabled would not be able to effectively perform the required job task. The second reason stated by the employers was the feared cost of special facilities needed by the disabled employees.

So, what do we do? How do we change the attitudes of the general public and most importantly the attitudes of perspective employers?

First of all, the Rutgers study pointed out that many of the needed accommodations cost either nothing or under $600 dollars. It should be pointed out here that my agency is willing to pay for most work place accommodations.

Finally, the Rutgers study pointed out that after one year of employment, the retention rate of the persons with disabilities was as high as 85 per cent.

Speaking as an experienced Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, I have many clients that are highly motivated. I have some that are willing to work late hours after most have gone to bed and work early before most have gotten up for the day.

Many in society have the view that the disabled are unwilling to work or that they are just being lazy. Rather, it is one of motivation to improve one’s financial situation. One’s attitude of wanting to give back to society and one’s wish to have a career and live like everyone else.

The disabled bagger at Kroger should not be looked upon with pity. No, we need to look at that person as someone who is adding to society and is enjoying an enriched quality of life.

In conclusion, two weeks ago I was sitting at my desk when the phone rang. The secretary said it was a client who we had recently closed successfully. He called to thank me for helping him. Wow, what a great way of ending your day. Knowing that you have helped someone succeed.

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