Today (July 26) is National Disability Independence Day. That’s because 31 years ago today the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law. This important civil rights law prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

It is this law that makes it easier for participants at the Occupational Development Center, and others with intellectual/developmental disabilities, to get jobs in the community.

And yet, this particular segment of the disability population still has an unemployment rate of more than 80%!

All of this is why the ODC exists and why we’ve been working hard at this for nearly 75 years. We know that members of the I/DD community have a lot to offer prospective employers, particularly at a time when there is a shortage of skilled workers. At the ODC, we offer high quality vocational training in order to prepare our participants for community based employment. While here they learn a wide variety of skills that can be used in a multitude of job settings. They are also learning the value of things like teamwork, integrity, patience, punctuality, and how to do a job well and do it properly.

It’s not just about the specific skills needed for a specific job, but also about the “soft” skills that make them valued and well-liked employees and coworkers.

For instance, just today we started a new job, assembling sample notebooks for a flooring company. Supervisor Maria has been working with Frank and Heather to show them how to assemble these kits. And they picked up on the job quickly and will have it completed in a day or two.

  • The ADA gives our participants the right to work.
  • The ODC gives them the skills they need to work.
  • Now all they need is the opportunity to work, and that’s where you come in.

Your business can benefit from hiring one or more of our participants.

Why not consider hiring them for competitive employment in an integrated setting at your business. Your first thought might be that you have no jobs that they can do, but why not give them a chance? Think about how you can make reasonable accommodations so that they can succeed. Some times it takes a level of creativity to find the right job for them, but once you do, you will be greatly rewarded with an incredible worker. We can even work with you to help you find a fit you didn’t even know you had!

Giving them the chance to work provides them with increase self-worth, and it provides them with a paycheck which brings them closer to a life of independence.

Isn’t that what all of us really want? To be independent and to feel needed and useful, and appreciated for what we CAN do?

So give us a shout! We’d love to hear from you.