Although major companies like Amazon and Target have announced their plans to hire an additional 150,000 and 100,000 seasonal employees, respectively, seasonal hiring isn’t always as simple as it appears. Disabled people face numerous barriers when it comes to employment. The statistics also support this. The current disability employment gap in the United States is a dismal 44.6%. People frequently associate the work of non-profits in the field of disability employment with guidance and training on matters like as interview preparation and assistive technology.
When it comes to direct employment, one may be reminded of the discriminatory practices of sheltered workshops, where people with disabilities are paid a subminimum wage to perform menial tasks. However, the non-profit sector provides meaningful work to some people with disabilities.
The AbilityOne program, which dates back to the 1930s, uses the federal government’s purchasing power to buy items and services directly from community-based participating agencies where people with disabilities and veterans make up a major portion of the workforce.
One such participant is the Austin Lighthouse for the Blind, which provides integrated warehousing and logistics solutions for the United States Department of Defense and employs over 400 people, more than half of whom are legally blind.
Sadly, the unemployment rate for people who are blind or visually impaired in the US is close to 70%. Many employees are reluctant to hire individuals with disabilities. In my experience, employers don’t hire me when they find out I have Cerebral Palsy. The manager of a Homewood Suites rescinded my interview when I told her I was disabled. Unfortunately, they often refuse to provide me with accommodations as well. A local grocery store didn’t hire me because the timekeeping system is upstairs in the breakroom.
Hiring people with disabilities shouldn’t be seen as an act of charity. We should be treated like any other employee. I hope that more employers realize how valuable people with disabilities are to the workforce. There are millions of hardworking, reliable people with disabilities worldwide; we simply need the right employment opportunity to come along.
Alexiou, Gus. “How Disability Charities Are Working to Solve the U.S. Labor Shortage.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 25 Nov. 2022, https://www.forbes.com/sites/gusalexiou/2022/11/25/how-disability-charities-are-working-to-solve-the-us-labor-shortage/?sh=43a521284b57.