WIS TV: Organizations working to educate SC employers about potential of ‘untapped workforce’ people with disabilities

Screenshot of a video from the news story that says there are 727,701 individuals with disabilities in SC and 32.6% of them are employed.

By Jason Raven | July 31, 2019 at 7:45 PM EDT - Updated July 31 at 10:35 PM

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Like many college students, Tiffany Diaz is wrapping up her summer internship.

Diaz has a visual disability because of her albinism. She is considered legally blind.

She hopes to work at a law firm after she gets her degree and wants to advocate for other people with disabilities.

“Some people call it ambitious,” Diaz said, “Not ambitious in a positive way, but in a way that they don’t think I can really do that but they say it’s cool I’m thinking of it.”

ABLE South Carolina along with the South Carolina Disability Employment Coalition is working to change that mindset through the “Hire Me SC” campaign.

Robbie Kopp is the Director of Advocacy and Community Access with ABLE SC said, “In South Carolina, we’re finally working out some of the kinks around disability employment.”

The organization said people with disabilities can have a tough time getting a job in our state some times, but once they do they make the most of it. “They’ve seen closed doors because of unintentional or intentional discrimination. They’ve applied for countless jobs and when they finally get that opportunity and they can contribute, they really have something to prove.”

According to the Institute on Disability, there are more than 727,000 people with disabilities in South Carolina. Close to 70% of them are unemployed. Kopp said there are many misconceptions and myths when it comes to hiring an employee with a disability. Many employers say they are worried about accommodation costs. “The majority of accommodations, 59%, cost zero dollars. The accommodation is free. It’s adjustment to policy it’s something simple."

Kopp said with the low unemployment rate for citizens without disabilities in the state, companies are struggling to fill jobs. He says there are thousands of eligible employees with disabilities that would be a great fit.

Diaz said once more people realize what someone like her can accomplish in the workforce, you’ll see things start to change. “You don’t need to settle for anything. You don’t need to change what you want to be because you have a disability. You just have to figure out how to approach it in the best way for you.”

The state’s Disability Employment Coalition will be hosting an employment workshop on August 27th in West Columbia. For more information click here.

Hire Me SC