Developmentally Disabled Can and Want to Work
People with developmental disabilities prove their value as employees
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Project manager Brett Schlemmer, right, says the shredding
Wage says many of the disabled employees have been with the company a long time. The job depends on the person's disability. "As you may guess, a restaurant can be dangerous as we work with heat, machinery with moving parts," Wage says. "Our goal is always to be able to provide employment that is safe and free of discrimination."
Hire Abilities Hawaii urges companies to "Think Beyond the Label." Its TV commercial features "George," an employee of Maebo Noodle Factory in Hilo, who has a disability. "But you'd never know it," the caption reads as George carefully makes and separates noodles. Company president and CEO Blaine Maebo explains that every good company is built on its employees – "people who can bring something more to the job than just showing up ... that's why we 'Think Beyond the Label.' "
"All businesses are comprised of individuals with diverse skills and talents," says Rebecca Rude Ozaki, an associate professor at UH-Manoa's Center on Disability Studies. "Hiring individuals with disabilities is just one aspect of that diverse workforce that is needed to make communities work."
RealChoices Hawaii says employees with disabilities can reduce labor costs because they have better retention rates. Recruiting costs can be reduced because you can recruit them through nonprofit sources.
Miles Hashimoto takes pride in his work. His paycheck is also a source of pride, because it means he can buy things. Recently, he bought a bicycle and, occasionally, he buys items from the snack wagon that stops by Goodwill every morning. That impresses his friends and colleagues.
"When you can buy things, you've got status," says Schlemmer, his boss.
Learn how to make accommodations for new or existing employees at www.askjan.org.
The Work Opportunity Credit gives eligible employers a federal tax credit of up to 40 percent of the first $6,000 of first-year wages of a new employee who is part of a targeted group, which includes people with disabilities. The credit would apply as long as the employee was certified as disabled by the appropriate government agencies, according to the IRS. For more information, follow this link: tinyurl.com/6mlbg9.
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