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Breaking Down Employment Barriers for People with Disabilities

PHOTO: October is Disability Employment Awareness Month, and efforts are under way in Indiana to educate employers about the various capabilities and contributions of workers with disabilities. Photo credit: Erin Sparling/Flickr.
PHOTO: October is Disability Employment Awareness Month, and efforts are under way in Indiana to educate employers about the various capabilities and contributions of workers with disabilities. Photo credit: Erin Sparling/Flickr.
October 22, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS - Finding work in today's job market can be a challenging task for anyone, and in Indiana there is assistance to help those living with a disability to achieve their employment goals.

Kylee Hope, director of the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, said there are many misnomers about disabilities, and it's important for the public and employers to see the unique skills and potential of each person.

"We all need to be cognizant of the very different types of disabilities," she said, "and that employers need to look at that as a possible, viable option to actually have some adequate and qualified employees."

Hope said Vocational Rehabilitation Services provides school-to-work transitional planning, job guidance and counseling, job placement and career advancement support for those who are eligible. In 2013, more than 4,000 Hoosiers with a disability found successful employment through the program, and Hope said they've connected people to jobs ranging from a janitor to a lawyer.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Hope said they can help to eliminate the various, unique barriers to employment that those with a physical or mental impairment face. For example, she said, they can provide job coaching for a person with vocational skills who is lacking some of the soft skills needed in the workforce.

"You can have an individual with autism that have some very great academic skills," she said, "but sometimes their social skills may be a barrier to get through an interview process or to deal with maybe some of the personalities in the job environment."

They also work with those with a physical disability to ensure the modifications they need to perform their job are available, Hope said. In addition, the program supports those who are injured at work so they can maintain their current employment.

There are 20 Vocational Rehabilitation Services offices through the state.

More information is online at vrs.in.gov.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN