For people with disabilities, finding work can be discouraging. According to the U.S Department of Labor, 79.2 percent of people with disabilities are not employed. For those without disabilities, 31.1 percent are currently not employed.
However, the reported unemployment rate is 8.1 percent nationally and 5.2 percent in Utah. The difference between the reported unemployment rates and the actual percentage of those not employed is due to how these numbers are calculated.
The reported unemployment rate is limited to people who are actively seeking employment, are currently unemployed and who are actually receiving unemployment benefits. This leaves a great number of people who have run out of unemployment benefits without finding a job, as well as those who have given up on looking for work or are otherwise not actively seeking employment.
Only 20.8 percent of people with disabilities are working. In comparison, for those without a disability, 68.9 percent are working. These numbers are from the total adult working-age population.
Thankfully, there are resources available to assist those disabled individuals who want to work.
The Utah State Office of Rehabilitation's mission is to assist eligible individuals in obtaining employment and increasing their independence. USOR provides services to people with disabilities through the Division of Rehabilitation Services, the Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the Division of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
In addition, the Legislature has passed helpful legislation, such as House Bill 17, which enhances state employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The program is known as the Alternative State Application Process and benefits state agencies by expediting the hiring process while increasing access to state employment for qualified individuals with disabilities.
Of course, the Americans With Disabilities Act enacted by Congress in 1990, helps level the employment playing field by prohibiting discrimination under certain circumstances -- such as the individual must be otherwise qualified for the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation.
Many private and publicly operated programs also provide assistance to people with disabilities. Enable Utah, a private nonprofit program located in Ogden, supports people with disabilities through work training to achieve their maximum independence.
EnableUtah strives to set the standard for training of job and life skills, paid work and community-based employment for all people with disabilities who desire to work.
The Cache Employment and Training Center, located in Logan, provides services to individuals with disabilities in order to maximize their vocational or independent living skills. Services include day training, supported employment, seniors program, family support, respite, supported living, vocational evaluations, volunteer programs, behavior supports, summer youth program and host home.
In Davis County, the Pioneer Adult Rehabilitation Center fosters independence for people with disabilities through employment and training. PARC's vision is a society where people with disabilities achieve their full individual potential.
The Ogden/Weber Chamber of Commerce's Utah Business Employers Team promotes the employment of people with disabilities and provides business-to-business support for employers. The UBET Committee meets with the Workforce Development Committee, at 8 a.m. on the fourth Wednesday of the month in the Chamber's office.
UBET help employers become a Disability Friendly Business by offering a variety of training and supports. For more information, call 801-621-8300, ext. 105.
While many services, supports and programs are available to assist people with disabilities, the reality that almost 80 percent are not employed remains troubling and certainly means we, as a society, have more work to do to help those who desire so much to work.
Ron Campbell has worked extensively in the job preparation and job search industry. He can be reached at 801-386-1111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.