This last blog in the series for National Disability Employment Awareness Month is throwing out some information for those of you that need a bit more about possibly hiring someone who is disabled. As always these resources are mainly for Arizona and those who are blind or visually impaired.
Just to reiterate a statistic that I like to harp on: In the years since the ADA went into effect the unemployment rate for those who are disabled has risen. From, men and women respectively, 49% and 59% to 59% and 69%. Not exactly prodigious numbers for a nation that wishes, and supposedly, wants to include everyone no matter disability, gender, race, or ethnicity. I’m through venting now … so, as to not clog your day too much, let’s get rolling.
Organizations for the Blind:
National Federation of the Blind
American Foundation for the Blind
Arizona Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired
Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired
Equipment for the Blind:
- Computer Programs – There are several software programs that assist the blind & visually impaired with effectively utilizing the computer. Some of these are expensive and others are free. But they all help us to use the computer effectively and efficiently. The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has a larger list of resources for those that are blind or visually Impaired nfb.org/resources
- JAWS – From Freedom Scientific. This is a screen reading program that allows us to utilize the computer and visit websites. It allows us to do everything that you can do with a variety of voice styles and languages. freedomscientific.com
- NVDA is another screen reader which is a freeware program and has minor differences than JAWS but works just as well so I’m told
- Window Eyes & Zoom Text are magnifiers. They magnify the computer screen so that those who have limited vision can operate this infernal machine as well as anyone.
- Braille text writers enable those who can read braille to use the computer. For example: Take orders/complaints in a call/complaint center. Depending on how fast the individual can read, they can be as fast as any sighted CSR.
Other Equipment for the Disabled:
Think all of those wonderful gadgets that talk and are so convenient nowadays were developed for blind people only? Not a chance! Talking watches, smart phones, micro digital recorders, talking machines (of all kinds), and many other items make it so much easier for a disabled person to go to work. Some are expensive others are inexpensive or free. But most were developed without regard for the disabled, just to make it more convenient for the larger population.
I don’t know all the alphabet soup of agencies that can assist you with helping provide accommodations to those of us who want to work. I would suggest contacting these agencies and organizations to get more information;
Department of Health & Human Services
State Departments of Vocational Rehabilitation
The national organizations listed above, and other similar agencies may have a maze to navigate in the process but if someone wants to help the disabled to work for them with tax incentives, or other assistance then it is well worth the inconvenience for an employer.
From blind, deaf, paraplegic, Asperger’s, quadriplegic, and every other kind of disability you can think of, can now work if they wish to. And trust me most of us who worked all of our lives until our disability caused us not to be able to, want to go back to work.
So, the next time a disabled person wanders into your business and wants to apply for a job, why automatically put the application in round file 13? I’m hoping that I’ve given you plenty of answers and things to think about this month when it comes to hiring the disabled into your business. Whether that be security, customer service, media, stock room clerk, or just as a janitor, we can do the same jobs you can do even with our disabilities.
Most great people have their greatest success one step beyond their greatest failure
Robert D. Sollars, who has been blind since 2003, is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many, where you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.
I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear