It is unfortunate that there is still a stigma associated with disabilities and individuals that have them. With proper home medical equipment and technological advances in the workplace, there is nothing the disabled can’t do that everyone else can. What’s so shocking about this is that through the decades have gone by, we have had many leaders among politics (Franklin Delano Roosevelt), science (Stephen Hawking), community (Helen Keller), and entertainment (Stevie Wonder), who have thrived and made the world a better place.
Americans with Disabilities Act was put into place 28 years ago, yet job opportunities for people with disabilities are still lacking. Individuals who are differently-abled are more than capable of making an impact on society and living meaningful and fulfilling lives.
When looking at a person with disabilities, it is important to see a person, not a “disabled person” and this attitude should be adopted early on in these individuals’ lives. A strong work ethic and sense of pride and purpose is given to any and all in the workplace, especially those with disabilities who were shunned from a young age. Imagine the impact and strength we can build in the disabled community by simply flipping our perspective on just how valuable they are to our society.
In the workplace, it is important to have a diverse staff who can come together and generate innovative ideas based on unique viewpoints. Having disabled individuals in the workplace could broaden the horizons when developing new products and services, helping them to expand their target audiences.
One company in particular agrees and have taken action in providing employment to those who are differently-abled. Amy Wright and her husband opened Beau’s Coffee Shop (now named Bitty and Beau’s Coffee Shop) the name chosen to celebrate two of their children that have Downs Syndrome. The original shop, in Charlotte, N.C., was run entirely by its staff of 19 individuals with disabilities. The shop has since expanded to Charleston, S.C., and Savannah, G.A. Mr. and Mrs. Wright now employ over 60 disabled people. An employee named Trevor had this to say, “I love my job because I feel famous…” And as for barista, Jesse, “My job gives me confidence and helps me grow as a person. My job brings me joy and happiness.”
There is a long way to go when it comes to equal treatment for the disabled, things seem to be looking up. In recent ads you can see individuals with disabilities being represented of all age groups, models and actors have been hired for recent campaigns. The newest Gerber baby will be represented by a baby with Down Syndrome and Tommy Hillfger is not only designing clothing with people with disabilities in mind but featuring those people in his ads. The winds are changing and it seems as though our society is starting to slough off the taboo and isolation associated with disabled individuals, finally allowing them to make the impact they were born so perfectly to make.