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Opening the Door to North Dakota Workers with Disabilities

October 5, 2007

Bismarck, ND – Many people with disabilities may feel as if they are locked out of the nation's workforce, and advocates say that's a loss, both to employers and the economy. October is "National Disability Employment Awareness Month," an effort to break down workplace barriers.

Jim Moench, with the North Dakota Disabilities Advocacy Consortium, says many employers may not understand that people with disabilities can work as effectively as those without. He says the "Americans with Disabilities Act" went a long way to remove employment barriers. Today's employers must understand that people with disabilities not only make good workers, but there is little additional expense involved in hiring them.

"The costs are generally not very much -- sometimes nothing at all, just merely changing the way we do business a little bit."

He says if we can help people with disabilities find work within their communities, it will help the entire state's economy.

"They pay taxes like everyone else, they pay Social Security, they contribute to their communities, and they feel better about themselves."

The "Americans with Disabilities Restoration Act" is now in Congress, and Moench says that's a good opportunity to help workers with disabilities in their effort to find employment.

Dick Layman/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - ND