It’s no surprise that in today’s financial climate, employment isn’t always easy to come by. As a person with a disability, you may even consider it an even more difficult task to become gainfully employed than if you were without one. But times are a changin’, and the misconception that people with disabilities are a less valuable asset to employers is diminishing.

In fact, President Obama proposed in 2012 an order that would require businesses wishing to work with the federal government maintain a 7 percent employee base as having a disability. While these notions are admirable, they currently remain an aspiration. That has not, however, deterred influential opinions from voicing their support of employing these people. Major progress has been made by many big name businesses to push hiring more people with disabilities, stating that they need not worry about spending a surplus of dollars to accommodate these new hires. A Walgreens Co. Spokesperson has favorably stated, “All the accommodation they need is an open mind.” Walgreens is making strides for those with disabilities by empowering them through employment. With a goal set at having 33 percent of their workforce be living with a disability, Walgreens exceeded even their own expectations with 40 percent of their company being disabled workers. And they are receiving the same pay and equal treatment as their coworkers. The convenience store kings aren’t stopping their momentum and are committed to growing this number in the future.

Previously adding to their reservations of hiring workers with disabilities, employers might have argued it to be a more costly venture than hiring people without a disability. Among other things, they worry about costs of having to install special mobility equipment or having to add more handicap parking to allow for additional wheelchair accessible vehicles. Walgreens can come to the rescue again, claiming that costs per employee from an accommodations standpoint are minimal, rarely exceeding $50 per person.

As people with disabilities currently represent the single largest and most diverse minority group in the country, they remain an invaluable resource to employers – a resource that, until recently, was largely untapped. Employers may have been previously unaware of the welcomed level of dedication and loyalty this group can bring to an organization. But there are voices speaking out defending this group and bringing to light what large assets people with disabilities can be to any business. Studies have proven to naysayers that hiring employees with disabilities will:

  • Improve retention rates
  • Attract other qualified employees
  • Create and add to customer value
  • Provide economic advantages
  • Help maintain overall performance standards

So, keep up the good work. Whatever it is you’re doing, you’re doing it right.

This mobility safety update has been brought to you by NMEDA – the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. Need some information on how to make your vehicle wheelchair accessible or upgraded with the latest and most convenient features? Contact a NMEDA dealer in your local area. Your local NMEDA member is a mobility equipment and accessibility expert!

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