Disabled maybe but not unable


The “differently abled” take a stand and prove that they are capable of working in the workforce. Courtesy of http://business.utsa.edu/news/2012/disability_research.aspx

Finding a job in today’s economy is a difficult task for any American. For a person with disabilities, however, the challenge becomes even more daunting.
According to The Huffington Post, most Americans with intellectual or developmental disabilities are completely shut out of the workforce, despite the billions of dollars spent on government programs to aid these workers . In Executive Order 13163, the Federal Government states that officials will hire 100,000 people with disabilities over a five-year period. Is this really happening, though?

The "differently abled" take a stand and prove that they are capable of working in the workforce.
The “differently abled” take a stand and prove that they are capable of working in the workforce. Courtesy of The University of Texas San Antonio School of Business

In 2013, just 17.6 percent of people with disabilities were employed in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor StatisticsThis leaves more than 75 percent of the disabled population without jobs, and without opportunities to build self-confidence.
“A lot of the problem has to do with low expectations,” Ms. Lynnae Ruttledge, National Council on Disability (NCD) council member, said according to The Huffington Post. 

And employers do have low expectations. Many are hesitant to hire someone with potential impulsivity, low intellectual capacity, and difficulty performing basic life skills.  Others worry that accommodating these workers will result in a loss of profit, according to The Chicago Tribune.  Consequently, there is a stigma surrounding those with disabilities that is very difficult to overcome.
The disabled who do manage to find jobs usually end up working part-time and receiving lower pay than other workers. Some receive even less than minimum wage. 
But, according to The Huffington Post, attitudes are changing and more employers are starting to consider hiring those with disabilities. 
“It’s tragic to lose the intelligence, the ideas, the energy, the spirituality of people who otherwise would be left to the side,” multiple sclerosis patient Mr. Michael Obediah said, according to nbcnews.com. “We’re beginning to crack open this incredible treasure of human potential.
Prospector Theater, a nonprofit movie theater in Ridgefield, Connecticut, has already joined the effort to provide jobs to those with disabilities who are trying to break societal norms and succeed in the workforce.
Sixty percent of the staff at the theater is disabled. The executive staff makes no distinction between employees with or without disabilities; everyone is treated equally.
All employees are known as ‘prospects,’ and trained to perform various tasks, such as serving popcorn, making drinks, and greeting customers. The jobs are meaningful and important, giving those with disabilities a sense of accomplishment.
“A lot of people just don’t know how to interact and how to communicate with people with disabilities, but here at the Prospector, when they come in and they see our ‘prospects,’ our employees, doing such a great job, any people’s fears or stereotypes completely dissolve,” founder Ms. Valerie Jensen said, according to today.com. “It becomes something so magical. The meaningful interactions that come out of it are really life changing.”
– Kim Smith, Managing Editor