Monica Villar presents a relevant case of the issues that people with disabilities undergo when seeking employment. Her article reads…

For most of us, having a job is a rite of passage into becoming an adult. We have had some type of employment since we were old enough to work. Going to work every day for many is something to look forward to. Not only does it provide us with an income that supports us, but working also fills many important parts of our life.

Having a job gives us the opportunity to develop new relationships outside of our typical circle. It provides us with a chance to serve in whatever capacity our business operates and it provides us with a strong sense of accomplishment when we complete a task well. However, for many people with developmental disabilities having a job is not offered as a viable option or something to even consider.

I have discussed employment for people with developmental disabilities in a few articles and will continue to do so as the focus continues to center on this initiative both within the state of Utah and on a federal level.

In the second of several public meetings regarding the Division of Services for People with Disabilities (DSPD) Employment Initiative, Paul Smith, director, began the meeting by stating that we have to look forward to the future of our services.

“Creating the possibility for employment for someone to whom it was never even suggested is reinventing the way we provide services,” said Lisa Breitenstein, executive director of RISE Residential Services. “In the past, the only employment choices were sheltered workshops or enclaves where people with disabilities worked together in groups. Now with the new direction of competitive, individualized employment, we are learning how to assess an individual’s interests and skills with the objective of helping them find productive employment.”

RISE is opening the doors of its Opportunity Centers to local business people and individuals who are willing to come in and share information on their trade or profession with the people in our program.

Although employment for people with disabilities has been the goal for some time, it is not without its barriers. Educating businesses to the benefits and rewards of hiring this population takes time. Sometimes potential employers have never considered hiring someone with a disability because they see it as a barrier. However, employers are not encouraged to hire people because of their disability but rather because of their abilities and skills. There are also many incentive programs to encourage employers to consider.


Continue reading on the the Herald Extra.