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By Larry Robbin, Executive Director of Robbin and Associates
One out of five Americans is a person with a disability. The majority of these disabilities are not apparent and are referred to as hidden disabilities. Some examples of these disabilities include learning disabilities, HIV/AIDS, cancer, hepatitis, epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, trauma disorders and mental health disabilities. These are just a few of the hidden disabilities. Why are you missing these hidden barriers to employment?
Workforce programs often exist in silos. As a result, many programs that are not labeled disability programs, do not recognize, assess or help people with these important barriers to employment. Your organization may be called an America’s Job Center, youth employment program, reentry program, mature worker program, veterans program and other types of workforce programs, but the truth is these are all also disability employment programs.
When programs do not assess for hidden disabilities or know how to help people figure out what type of accommodations they need, many of the people they serve will not be successful in getting and holding jobs. Every workforce program, whether it is called a disability employment program or not, should have the capability to do some preliminary assessment for disability and have some idea about accommodations. Every workforce program should also have close relationships with programs that specialize in disability services so people can get all the help they need to be successful in the world of work. The following websites will be very helpful to you in working with people with disabilities.