Disabled People In The Workforce

Sean Taylor gets satisfaction by doing everyday tasks like keeping his room clean and making his own grocery list. But these days, that sense of accomplishment stems from something bigger.

The 27-year-old was hired in 2021 at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana plant in Princeton. Now, the Purdue University graduate with an intellectual disability is collaborating with the welding team to ensure that operations are efficient and up to date.

Since 2014, the Toyota facility has actively recruited new hires with intellectual or developmental disability. According to Ted Brown, the plant’s vice president, more than 100 of those employees have joined the ranks since then.

Brown says that the Toyota facility doesn’t hire disabled people because it is an act of charity. He says they are some of the most dedicated employees who are creative, and hardworking. Toyota’s Inclusive Talent Program’s success will now be replicated at other Indiana manufacturing locations.

Data also proves Brown’s point. However, those without disabilities are three times more likely to be employed than those with disabilities. In the United States, only 21.3% of people with a disability worked last year.

Earlier this year, Indiana lawmakers passed groundbreaking legislation to establish a pilot program to hire and train more people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The program established by House Bill 1160, like Toyota, is not intended to be an act of charity according to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ed Clere. It is a strategic economic-development approach targeted at addressing the labor shortage that many manufacturing businesses are experiencing as a result of the COVID pandemic.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration is developing the program. The agency is working with the Erskine Green Training Institute in Muncie, which is a first-of-its-kind postsecondary vocational training program for people with disabilities.

The Arc of Indiana Foundation established the center, which launched in 2016 and offers training in hospitality, food service, healthcare, and inventory distribution.

Data shows disabled people are hardworking, creative, and reliable in the workplace. All people should be able to find work, including people with disabilities. Disabled people can be wonderful employees, but employers won’t know that if they never hire them.


All in: Easterseals Plan for Disability Equity.” Easterseals, https://www.easterseals.com/our-programs/employment-training/all-in/.

Ceron, Ella. “Remote Work Helps Push Disabled Employment to a Record High of 21%. but the Gain Is Imperiled by Return to the Office Mandates.” Fortune, 25 Feb. 2023, https://fortune.com/2023/02/24/remote-work-disabled-employment-record-high-remote-work-office-mandates/.

Gerber, Carson. “State Program Taps Hoosiers with Disabilities to Curb Worker Shortage.” The Lebanon Reporter, 12 June 2023, http://www.reporter.net/indiana/news/state-program-taps-hoosiers-with-disabilities-to-curb-worker-shortage/article_e45b925a-06cd-11ee-95fd-bb4b8179673a.html.

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