Lakeshore News Tonight

Benefits Come from Hiring Individuals with Disabilities

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October 31, 2013 — Employers are always looking to hire talented employees and The Arc of Northwest Indiana is hoping to educate businesses about the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities.

The Operations Integration & Strategy Director at Northern Indiana Public Service Company, Michael Suggs is commenting on his company’s experiences of hiring people with disabilities.  He says, “We have been able to work with partner organizations like the ARC of NWI, the Urban League and other organizations to share with us some of the concerns of the disabled.”

Opportunity Enterprises (OE) President and CEO David Stupay agrees with Suggs.  He says, “As we provide employment for people, it gives them a sense of identity and a sense of purpose to say, this is who I am.”

Stupay and Suggs say their organizations have been hiring workers with disabilities for years.  Placement Services Director Margo Love-Surprise at The Arc Northwest Indiana says, the government recommends 7% of each company’s workforce should be made up of Americans with disabilities.

Love-Surprise says, The federal government has mandated to any federal contractors and their sub contractors that they need to diversify their workforce.”

Love-Surprise says many employers do not consider employing people with disabilities because they think of the person as a liability.  She says, “They feel that they may have to redo parts of the environment to access that person or help with other types of accommodations that would be costly.”

Stupay says OE has been assisting disabled workers since 1967.  Their services are in such demand they recently opened a new wing.  Stupay says, “We actually provide jobs for people in the community as well and they are able to be self-sufficient and be able to provide a needed service in the community.”

Love-Surprise says, “Most people generally think of physical disability as someone who uses a wheelchair or they might use a walker or something else, but some of physical disabilities can be as simple as having asthma and being able to have a fan going.”

Suggs says, acquiring a little bit of knowledge will knock down many barriers.  He says, he believes, “We have kind of created an environment where people are now aware and willing to be more inclusive”.

The Arc, NIPSCO and Opportunity Enterprises all agree people with disabilities are an untapped demographic that could have a wealth of knowledge to share with companies if given an opportunity.

By Denise Turner

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