Letters: Employers shouldn’t equate disability with inability

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The era when people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD) were hidden away from the eyes of society is over. As people with ID/DD become more integrated with society, we see them in schools, stores, public events and employed in our communities.

However, employment opportunities for people with ID/DD depend on the willingness of employers to hire people who have suffered labels that suggest inability. My personal gratitude and thanks go to all of the employers who have already discovered the wealth of talents and skills among people with ID/DD. Abilities First, Inc. has helped several hundred people with ID/DD find successful jobs in the community.

For those employers who have not yet had the pleasure of hiring a successful employee who happens to have an intellectual or developmental disability, I encourage you to do so.

Having personally known hundreds of people with ID/DD, I speak from experience when I say that they are just like any other group of people. This means that each person is unique, having their own history, values, passions and goals in life. And make no mistake that people with ID/DD have varying sets of skills and abilities that can be put to use in the workplace. So do not hire a person with a disability because he or she has a disability alone, but because you see and appreciate the person’s particular skill set and desire to succeed.

In honor of National Disability Employment Month, I encourage the Hudson Valley community to welcome people with intellectual and developmental disabilities into the world of employment where people find meaning and purpose in their lives.

Jeffery Fox
Executive Director, Abilities First, Inc.

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