I have to thank the Bionic Ear Blog for linking to Think Beyond the Label, a campaign to promote hiring people with disabilities. They take a unique approach to this: that hiring people with disabilities makes good business sense. "Employees with disabilities have unique, competitively relevant knowledge and perspectives about work processes, bringing different perspectives to meeting work requirements and goals successfully," they say. "Hiring someone who 'thinks outside the box' might be thinking too small when there’s an opportunity to hire someone who lives outside the box."
There's a search on their site that allows employees to find resources that will help them get connected with potential employees. There's also a list of tax credits and some myths regarding hiring people with disabilities.
The site reminds me of a blog post I wrote in November about an NPR article how the downturn in the economy is even harder on people who have disabilities. In that NPR article, Richard Horne, who works for the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor, says, "21 million out of 26 million people with disabilities are not even in the labor force." Seriously? Many of these are people who could work, but feel locked out of the jobs they qualify for due to something utterly beyond their control.
Employers can suffer from a lot of misconceptions regarding hiring people with disabilities. They may be afraid of being sued or of the cost of accommodating someone - but most accommodations cost little to nothing and can utilize things the employer already has, like a deaf employee using e-mail instead of the telephone. That's why I'm excited about this new campaign. People with disabilities know they have the skills. Employers just need to know that, too.