LUCAS COUNTY, Ohio — October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
The Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities emphasizes that although the nation is undergoing a hiring shortage, there are still plenty of employees that tend to get overlooked. Typically, those potential hires are people with disabilities.
The board's Community Inclusion & Employment Manager Sarra Burnham noted that some companies may have a misconstrued perception or lack of understanding of what it means to have an employee with a disability working for them.
"A disability doesn't define a person. Everybody has individual strengths that they can bring," Burnham explained.
She added that there are many resources for the company as well as for the employee if companies are looking to hire. The best information for help can be found on the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities website.
"Money means freedom for people with disabilities," Nate Turner said. "If they just give people with disabilities a chance to learn and grow and integrate with their communities, it's essential."
Turner explained that once companies give people with disabilities a chance, they'll be beyond pleased with that hire.
He's been working part-time at Telus International in a completely remote position as an AI Senior Web Quality Rater since April 2017.
Turner is also the first person receiving services to serve on the board for the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities
He's able to be a role model to others with disabilities, as well as contribute to the board with first-hand knowledge on what does and doesn't work when it comes to helping the community.
"We have unique talents and skills as a result of our resiliency and we've also shown to be reliable employees," Turner explained. "We're sociable, we're engaging and we're willing to work."
Burnham noted that the great thing about the pandemic is that now more than ever, people with disabilities are getting jobs with companies or starting their own businesses. She's very proud of the work that the community and her clients are doing.
While the board wants to make sure everyone gets a chance to be hired, agencies help by offering direct support, assisting those with disabilities find jobs at places currently in crisis mode due to a lack of employees.
Founder of Beyond Expectations Supportive Services, LLC, Ernest Easley III explained what he needs.
"We're looking for somebody who's going to come in and kind of be some people's voice when they don't have the voice, or be somebody's hands when they do have the voice. It is just gearing towards the individual in need," Easely said.
Lucas County Board Provider & Development Coordinator Lisa Poriy added that agencies that lack the proper amount of employees cause a ripple effect for those within the disability community.
"Providers have not been able to expand support to more than their current capacity or they've had to cut back services people need in order to be an active member in their community," Poriy said.
Hiring signs are out and agencies are serious about offering a job that both Easley and Poriy said can have a meaningful impact on numerous lives.
For more information on working with an agency or for Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities, click here.