Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Governors Promote Employment For People With Disabilities


Julie Williard, 25, is one of the top performers in her division filling orders from local stores at the Walgreens distribution center in Windsor, Connecticut. She is also deaf.
Williard says she was more accustomed to being bullied than encouraged before she started at the center, her first full-time job. “It just brought the happiness into my life,” she says. “Right now I have tons of friends.”
What makes this job different is that the facility, which opened in 2009, was built with the needs of people with a range of disabilities in mind. The workplace removes obstacles to success, by offering touchscreens, adjustable work stations and images and symbols to illustrate functions. About half the workers at the center have a disability, and they are expected to compete with all of their colleagues. Making the accommodations cost Walgreens an average of $50 per worker.
The nation’s governors have turned their attention to helping more people like Williard find jobs and building partnerships with companies like Walgreens that are willing to help accommodate people once considered unemployable. The National Governors Association (NGA) is targeting the issue this year and will make recommendations in an August report. The aim is to come up with plans that provide workers with disabilities not only a paycheck, but also a deeper sense of purpose and belonging.
Read more of Melissa Maynard's Disability Scoop article HERE.
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