A national advocacy organization says Indiana can do more to get people with disabilities into the workforce. Respect Ability says hiring more Hoosiers with disabilities might also be important for companies facing a tight labor market.
Respect Ability ranks Indiana as just the 24th best state for hiring people with disabilities. Its disability employment rate is slightly higher than the national average.
Philip Kahn-Pauli is the policy and practices director at Respect Ability. He says Indiana could focus on implementing more Employment First policies. It’s the idea that employment in competitive industries is the preferred outcome for people with disabilities.
"[So it’s] really understanding where are the talent needs in a state like Indiana and then giving people with disabilities access to services that will help them improve their skills and then put themselves out into the competitive workforce,” Kahn-Pauli says.
The U.S. Department of Labor annually recognizes October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month. This year’s theme was “The Right Talent, Right Now.”