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Why Aren’t We Hiring the Differently Abled?

October 25, 2017

Thought Leadership

There’s no time. I can’t train them. It’s too costly.

These are all myths about hiring people with different abilities.

Even though the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed nearly 30 ago, many adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities face discrimination in the general workforce. Many employers are not even willing to consider people with I/DD, despite the competitive skills they have to offer. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the national unemployment rate is double for folks with any kind of disability.

October is National Employment Disabilities Awareness Month and we are calling upon businesses, schools and other community organizations to become more engaged with the idea of inclusive hiring practices. At HeartShare Human Services, we have a Pre-Vocational and Employment Program creating a pipeline of highly qualified workers with I/DD.

First, our individuals receive extensive training. Before the date of hire, they have a work try-out with the prospective employer. HeartShare job coaches shadow that new employee until they’re able to fulfill their responsibilities without on-site support.

Secondly, the majority of reasonable accommodations are minimal. In fact, nearly 60 percent of accommodations cost absolutely nothing. “No tech” or “low tech” support might include extra preparation time to complete a task, or labeling an item for easier recognition.

Lastly, our punctual and hardworking employees typically take care of what your current employees don’t have the time for—keeping tables clean in a college cafeteria or serving as a greeter (and theft deterrent) at a retail store. Whether they’re working at Queens College or a Modell’s Sporting Goods retail store, these workers are creating a more efficient, seamless workplace for everyone.

At the end of the day, it’s not costly to hire people who are differently abled.

Will you debunk this myth or perpetuate it?

Linda Tempel, MBA, MSW, is executive director of developmental disabilities services at HeartShare Human Services of New York which nurtures and empowers more than 34,000 vulnerable New Yorkers each year. If you’d like to become an employment partner, please reach out to us at or 646-483-8910.