As we pause to recognize International Day of Persons with Disabilities, New Hope of Indiana is helping fill the local need for employees with individuals with disabilities who are ready to work.

In Indiana, only 37% of people with disabilities are employed, compared with 82% of Hoosiers without disabilities, according to the 2018 American Community Survey.

New Hope of Indiana – a nonprofit that supports individuals with disabilities in living their most fulfilled lives – is working to open doors for more Hoosiers who want to work, and for Indiana employers who have open positions that could be filled by an often overlooked population – individuals with disabilities.

Workforce readiness is a key piece of the puzzle. New Hope’s vocational services help assess a potential employee’s skills, as well as any skill gaps that could prevent their employment. New Hope facilitates training and skill-building that will get the individual ready to work in the type of job they’re looking for – whether it is working at the Apple store, a local coffee shop or grocery store.

Next, New Hope of Indiana works with each individual to market their employable skills – from writing a resume, to helping them prepare for an interview. New Hope’s employment consultants create an actionable plan for each person that’s built around their unique needs, skill sets and vocational goals. Finally, we help the individuals we serve find a job that’s right for them, identifying potential open positions where they can put their skills to work immediately.

New Hope closes the hiring loop by working with central Indiana employers, too. Employers receive ongoing training and support to help them create a positive employment experience for people with disabilities, and to help them best leverage their new team members in their organization. This includes 1:1 job support in the workplace during the initial employment period, and help facilitating communication between the employer and employee. New Hope also provides access to a Certified Benefits Liaison to help navigate questions related to insurance and other benefits, and ongoing benefits and eligibility support throughout the term of employment.

Outside of traditional jobs, New Hope also supports entrepreneurial-minded people with disabilities in starting their own micro business. Individuals work with New Hope’s employment consultants to develop a business goal, create a plan, and put them on the path to achieve that goal.

There are so many good reasons to practice inclusive hiring. For example, according to the Employer Assistance and Resource Network, people with intellectual and developmental differences are often lauded for exhibiting loyalty and timeliness, and for offering innovative, creative perspectives to improve policies and procedures that can increase a company’s bottom line.

Once again, on this International Day of Persons with Disabilities, New Hope of Indiana challenges Hoosier businesses to recognize and tap into the skills, tenacity and power of people with disabilities – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s good for business.

To learn more, visit www.newhopeofindiana.org/our-programs/.

Allison Wharry is the CEO of New Hope of Indiana. For over forty years, New Hope of Indiana has supported individuals and families, encouraging them to live their most independent lives. Through services for individuals with disabilities and advocacy efforts, New Hope of Indiana is making an impact in our communities every day.

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