Friday, January 25, 2008

Disabled vets make good employees


Department of Labor says employees with disabilities

perform better on the job and have a lower turnover

rate than those without disabilities.

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By Allan Appel

Employees with disabilities perform better on the job and have a lower turnover rate than those without disabilities. That’s the assessment of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, which also rates such employees as consistently meeting or exceeding business performance standards.

Here are some measures for employers to include candidates with disabilities in their overall employment objectives.

In designing any plan for recruiting employees, disability should be ranked equally with other diversity factors, such as gender and race. The disability community is composed of all economic and social strata of our population. It is also our largest minority group with some estimates of its size totaling 57 million people.

Businesses can create working relationships with disability-related organizations to promote inclusion policies in their employment schemes. Employment and career centers at colleges and universities can be enlisted as partners in that effort.

Recruitment should also extend to postings of a business’ openings at job fairs and Web sites. Such announcements should also be included in publications catering to the disability community.

Programs targeting youth with disabilities can also be established as part of a plan to expand summer internships and mentoring efforts.

There are also a number of resources available to assist employers to connect with qualified candidates with disabilities.

The Office of Disability Employment Policy participates in two free programs in this effort. The Employer Assistance and Recruiting Network (EARN) and Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) can be reached at (866) EARN-NOW (327-6669) (V/TTY) and (202) 693-7880 (V) (202) 693-7881 (TTY), respectively.

The Department of Veterans Affairs sponsors a Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service. Here, workers are pre-screened to tailor specific job requirements. Contact any local VA office for details of this service.

State vocational rehabilitation agencies can also be included in an effort to employ people with disabilities. Each state also provides work evaluations and assessments to determine how assistive technology and other accommodations may be applied in the workplace.

Additional resources can also be found in Disability Employment 101, a publication jointly sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. To obtain a copy, call (877) 433-7827 (V) or (877) 576-7734 (TTY).

Allan Appel writes a biweekly column about disabilities. He can be reached c/o Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers, 1939 S. Federal Highway, P.O. Box 9009, Stuart, FL 34994, or e-mail at

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