Curious about what underlying factors need to be addressed in order to lower Deaf unemployment?
TRANSCRIPT: A man by the name of Mark Wafer once opened a restaurant named “Tim Horton’s” and made the decision to hire Clint Sperling, a person with a disability. Wafer was recently recalling this decision fondly, recognizing Clint as the best of any of his employees. Wafer went on to open a total of 7 Tim Horton’ s restaurants, and as his business expanded so did his hiring of people with disabilities. Today Tim Horton’s employs around 41 people with disabilities, comprising roughly 20% of their entire workforce.
Now some statistics to put this into context. Did you know that only 13.6% of businesses actively recruit to hire people with disabilities?
The problem is people willing to actually hire people with disabilities, such as Mark Wafer, are few and far between.
Amongst the general populace the employment market is looking bright, with the unemployment rate trending down and more and more people finding jobs.
In the year 2016 65.3% of the general population was employed. Even so, people with disabilities have continued to struggle. 71.6% of people with disabilities are not part of the labor force, meaning they don’t have a job and are not looking for one. Compare that to 30.1% of the general population not participating in the labor force and you’ll see a huge disparity there.
We have an employment problem, we know it and the government knows it too, and has tried a number of tactics to address it. For example, in 2007 the United States Department of Labor, or DOL, implemented a requirement that companies wishing to contract with the federal government must hire a minimum of 7% of people with disabilities. Then in 2010 President Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13548, which established a 5 year goal for the federal government to hire 100,000 people with disabilities. Sure enough after those 5 years elapsed, the government had surpassed their goal, hiring 109,000 people with disabilities. However, if you look closer at that number you’ll find that of those 109,000, only 1,768 have what’s called “targeted disabilities.” People with targeted disabilities are Deaf, blind, Deaf-blind, have physical disabilities, or developmental disabilities just to name a few. The remainder of those new hires, more than 106,000, have “non-targeted disabilities”, like migraines, attention deficit disorder, heart disease, or asthma amongst other things.
That population has experienced fewer problems in the job market as compared to people with targeted disabilities, which means that this executive order was sadly a missed opportunity.
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