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The benefits of hiring workers with developmental disabilities

Editor:
    Finding a job is always a challenge, but for people with developmental disabilities it is often nearly impossible. Those with disabilities such as autism, fetal alcohol syndrome, or cerebral palsy have experienced how society focuses on their limitations instead of their strengths. While the overall unemployment rate in the U.S. hovers at 7 percent, that number is closer to 80 percent for people with disabilities.
    Recently in Statesboro, we hosted a “Conversations That Matter” Town Hall meeting on this topic. We explored how families dealing with developmental disabilities can find opportunity through employment, examining the difficulties of finding work and also the ultimate benefits of employment. Developmental disabilities are defined as severe chronic disabilities that limit three or more critical functional abilities. They often manifest early in life and last a lifetime.
    Fears, misinformation and preconceptions about developmental disabilities often keep people with a disability from finding work. Employers worry that these employees will not be able to keep up with the pace of work, or that their customers will disapprove. Yet, in fact, the opposite is true, and studies have shown the benefits of hiring people with developmental disabilities:
    ➤ By the Numbers: Pizza Hut reported their turnover rate for people with disabilities was 20 percent, compared to 150 percent among non-disabled employees.
    ➤ Lower rates of absenteeism. Developmentally disabled workers have much lower rates of absenteeism than the average, with many achieving perfect attendance.
    ➤ Job loyalty. Workers with developmental disabilities typically express positive attitudes toward their employers and co-workers, and much greater than average longevity in jobs.
    ➤ Employee morale. Many businesses report that hiring someone with developmental disabilities increases the sense of teamwork among employees as they become invested in helping him or her succeed.
    ➤ Customer satisfaction. Hiring developmentally disabled workers enhances a company’s corporate image. When surveyed, consumers overwhelmingly prefer to give their business to a company that hires the developmentally disabled.
    Throughout Georgia, employers willing to give these unconventional employees an opportunity have already begun to demonstrate that this group of motivated workers has untapped potential. By focusing on their abilities, not their disabilities, we can promote workplace success for everyone.
Rita Young
Director of Public Policy
All About Developmental Disabilities

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