A group of disability organizations has launched the Campaign for Disability Employment to promote the hiring of people with disabilities. Actor Robert David Hall, who plays a coroner on C.S.I. and is a paraplegic, kicked off the campaign with a keynote speech at the U.S. Business Leadership Network conference in Washington, D.C. “I’m an actor, and while there are more sensible pursuits, it is our shared experience as people with disabilities that must and can bring us together.” Hall says. All people with disabilities want to work, “but assumptions can be killers” that inhibit this group from getting jobs, he says.
The campaign centers around the theme “What can You do?” and seeks to reinforce that all people with disabilities want to work and that their talents will have a positive impact on businesses. Even so, in the weakened economy, people with disabilities are more likely to take a hit. The August unemployment rate for the disabled was 17 percent, vs. 9 percent for persons without disabilities, according to the Department of Labor.
The cornerstone of the campaign is a 30-second public service announcement, formatted for T.V., which features seven real people with disabilities in various lines of work telling companies to hire them. They represent people in both trade and professional roles, including a carpenter, teacher, motivational speaker, and communications manager, among others.
A micro-blog interface on the site invites people with disabilities to help educate employers and others about their diverse talents and skills by sharing what they “can do” at work. The site also features tools for supporting the Campaign’s goals, such as print outs of posters and ready-made articles for use in blogs and newsletters.
The Campaign for Disability Employment is a collaborative effort between the American Association of People with Disabilities; the National Business and Disability Council; Special Olympics; and the USBLN, with support from the Job Accommodation Network and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.