I received an email responding to last week's column about employment assistance available for those with disabilities from a man who has a disability and has not been successful in finding employment. From his perspective, all the services that are available seemingly were not enough to help him overcome the employment hurdles that people with disabilities face.
Among other things, the man said: "Yes, there are several assistance programs for people with disabilities, but that doesn't help very much. I worked with Voc Rehab for over a year (2008-2010) and didn't get one interview for the 50-60 businesses I sent resumes and applications to.
"From my experience, most companies don't want people with disabilities working for them. I applied for an inventory job at a company in SLC (2009), and from the time I met the person in charge of hiring workers, I knew that I didn't have any chance of getting the job.
"Once we started talking, she decided that the person that was to be hired also had to know how to design a program to simplify not only the inventory control of the business, but also replace their current payroll program.
"Some companies word the job requirements so they can legally avoid hiring people with disabilities. One company had a job for a person that would evaluate the planning instructions to operate the production machines and then determine if the instructions needed to be revised to make it easier to understand while assuring that the operator could run the machine safely.
"'Thanks for letting me bend your ear for a bit. It helps me think that there is a chance for some relief."
The heart-rending reality is that many of this man's perceptions are true.Too many employers do try to avoid hiring people with disabilities and some will resort to the tactics mentioned above. Here is part of my response to this man's concerns:
"Sadly, many of your concerns about many employers not wanting to hire someone with a disability are true. However, there are employers who are not only willing to hire someone with a disability, but they actively seek out this hard-working population. For example, the Ogden/Weber Chamber of Commerce, through their UBET committee, has a list of employers that are Disability Friendly Businesses. ...
"Regarding your experience with Voc Rehab, the Division of Rehabilitation Services was successful in helping 3,587 individuals with disabilities become successfully employed last year. 30,170 individuals were provided vocational rehabilitation services, and 99 percent of those employed were severely disabled. The estimated taxes paid by those who were successfully employed after vocational rehabilitation services were provided are $15,860,825.
"While these can be viewed by some as just numbers, each number is a real person, with a real family, with a real disability and with a real job as a result of vocational rehabilitation services.
"The good news is that the DRS is aware that they have improvements to make so individuals such as you can find success. In conjunction with the University of Utah's Center for Public Policy and Administration, they are currently engaged in a Comprehensive Assessment of Rehabilitation Needs of People With Disabilities.
"My hope is that you do not give up. You may want to start by getting a list of Disability Friendly Businesses from the Ogden/Weber Chamber of Commerce. You also may want to give Voc Rehab another try. Whatever you do, hang in there and keep trying. Relief will come unless you give up before it happens."
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.