For a long time, it was assumed that unemployment and underemployment of people with disabilities was closely interrelated to, and the unavoidable consequence of, the actual disability of those concerned. It is now recognized that many disadvantages faced are not due to individual disabilities, but rather a result of society’s reaction.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor June 2011 statistics, employment rates for persons with disabilities ages 16 to 64 was 21.2 percent compared to 70.2 percent for persons with no disability. The lower median household income for working-age people with disabilities compared to working-age people without disabilities ($39,600 vs. $61,200) illustrates the obstacles to employment and participation in the labor market for individuals with disabilities, and the resulting unemployment and underemployment.
AIDB is working to change these statistics (and perceptions) through two individualized employment training/placement and business education programs.
Making a Commitment
Thanks to a U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment Training Agency (DOL-ETA) award, AIDB recently initiated Pathways’ and Exciting Business I, based in AIDB’s Mobile and Birmingham Regional Centers, respectively. Goals are to increase employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities while building partnerships with employers and state/local agencies to increase awareness of the benefits of hiring people with disabilities.
Making a Difference
Shy and sheltered, James Ransaw was content staying home. Not until after his mother’s death, did James realize the need to update his skills, learn money management and pursue employment to live independently.
After completing training at AIDB’s E. H. Gentry Facility in Deaf Services, James was referred to Exciting Business II where teamed with project director, Lori Mitchell, they went to work – literally!
James began training at Walgreens, Anniston. Although intimidated, at the two-week point, he was interacting and joking with coworkers and developing a rapport with supervisors. His manager stated many times that while this was a new experience for Walgreens, James was one of the best decisions he has made while in management.
“This program has given me the tools and the confidence I needed to succeed,” James states.
Making a New Life
Daryn’s work history dates to 1995 – from dishwasher to laborer to mechanic – 10 jobs total with at least half resulting in termination or quitting; most lasting only a few months. The same can be said of his living situation – he has been removed or asked to leave numerous places – was even homeless.
Referred to Pathways, Daryn was quickly placed in a job at a local restaurant/bar but was again unsuccessful. His AIDB counselor, his Vocational Rehabilitation counselor, mental health counselor and his Pathways job coach worked with Daryn to review past mistakes and how to avoid future problems. After several weeks of intense counseling, teaching and coaching, the team agreed that Daryn was ready to return to work.
Pathways staff met with Value Place in Daphne, an extended stay hotel. Impressed, the manager set-up meetings with her immediate boss and his boss. Although each expressed concern, they were willing to try a trial hire for their custodian position. If Daryn could prove that he could do the job satisfactorily for two weeks, he could not only have a permanent job, but a place to live, as well.
Daryn exceeded expectations, helping Value Place achieve an outstanding rating on cleanliness during their yearly review.
“Since Pathways was designed to meet the challenges of helping people with disabilities who are chronically unemployed, Daryn’s story is one indicator of the success of this project,” states E.H. Gentry Facility Executive Director Travis Fields. “We anticipate many more.”
For additional information on Pathways, contact Michelle Jones at email@example.com
; for Exciting Business II information, contact Lori Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org