There’s a growing push to help people with disabilities join the workforce in Wisconsin, and a conference this week in Wisconsin Dells will focus on how to make it happen.
Despite a strong desire to work and support themselves, Beth Swedeen with the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities says many of those individuals are unable to find a job. She says only about 10 percent of the state’s disabled population is currently employed in a job that pays competitive wages.
Swedeen says there are many reasons why the job market is not accessible to the disabled. Perhaps the biggest, she believes, is that employers often have low expectations or underestimate the ability of those individuals to contribute.
Swedeen says there needs to be an expanded network of providers that understand integrated employment and that have the ability to sell the strengths of those looking for work. She says disabled students also need to be given access early on to resources in school that will help them find employment.
A coalition of disability rights advocates are meeting in Wisconsin Dells Tuesday for a summit focused on trying to double the number of integrated employees in the state’s workforce by 2014.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:16)