Initiative could provide employment, reasonable accommodation

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has announced an initiative aimed at improving employment options for residents with a wide range of mental health conditions. The move could help people with Down Syndrome, traumatic brain injuries, autism and cerebral palsy find work that is both profitable and fulfilling. By improving the state’s employment rate for such workers, Walker hopes that much of the untapped potential help by these individuals can be put to use within the workforce, by means of job options and reasonable accommodation.

The plan includes a proposed $800,000 in funding for job and skills training for workers facing mental health challenges. The hope is that in the next three years, the on-the-job training program will expand from just seven companies to more than 27. Walker stresses that the program is not intended as a form of charity, but is meant to educate those responsible for hiring about the value that disabled employees can bring to a company.

Walker points out that many members of management are from a generation in which disabled people were largely segregated from the rest of society. In today’s culture, it is widely accepted that those who live with a form of disability still have plenty to offer within the workforce, and should be given the chance to participate and contribute, both at work and in society in general. That belief forms the foundation of this and similar initiatives.

This initiative indicates a positive move toward securing employment options for those in Wisconsin who live with a mental disability. With reasonable accommodation and a more inclusive hiring philosophy, these citizens can find positions that make use of their particular skills and talents. They can also enjoy the sense of fulfillment that comes with contributing to a company’s success while achieving their own personal work goals.

Source: Star Tribune, Walker launches effort to expand job opportunities for Wisconsin workers with disabilities, Scott Bauer, Jan. 26, 2014

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