I visited Onondaga Community Living, Inc. (OCL) which supports the employment of people with disabilities in Syracuse, New York.
I had an opportunity to interview Mr. Lawton Williamson, a director for employment.
Lawton came to this field because he got a lot of inspirations from his friend Bob who is a legally blind man.
Bob had a dream to be a sportscaster. Lawton wondered how he can get the job.
Eventually Bob went to college and learned how to become a sportscaster.
He got a job as a sportscaster at a radio station on the third shift.
His parents give him a ride to the radio station in the evening and go back home to sleep.
Bob worked during night and finished his work in the morning.
His parents gave him a ride home each morning at the end of his work shift.
Next he started a DJ business.
He charged a bit less than other experienced DJs at weddings, etc.
This business was also successful.
After that, he started a real estate business.
After he worked as a real estate sales person in the field for a couple of years, he got a house right next to his parents’ house.
That was his licensed real estate office. He hired people who pick up phone calls and drive a car for him.
He as the owner and real estate broker, receives a profit every time a contract was made.
He again made his dreams come true!
Bob’s determination, persistence and brave stories made Lawton believe that he could encourage people with disabilities to get ideal jobs and realize their dreams!
Some of the supports OCL offers are helping people with disabilities build their résumés, prepare for interviews, follow up meetings after they are hired as needed and other employment related services.
OCL is an authorized not-for-profit provider by “Acces VR” of the New York State Education Department, so people with disability do not need to pay for the services.
OCL employees two full-time employment consultants and several part-time job coaches and community networkers to assist individuals with disabilities with discovery, career exploration,volunteering, job development, interviewing, job shadowing, extended services at the individual’s job location and career development for those individuals seeking growth in their vocation.
Compared to the employment situation for people with disabilities in Japan, the U.S. provides a much wider variety of job opportunities for them.
Not only because of a law that employers cannot discriminate based on one’s disability, but also the U.S. government gives tax credit to the employers by hiring people with disability.
In Japan, we use a quota system, which regulates corporations with more than 50 employees in Japan to keep their employees with disabilities at 2% of the total employees.
When the employers do not hire enough employees with disabilities, they would need to pay fine.
But in the U.S., no specific required number is required to hire people with disabilities at a regular company, but the companies can have a monetary benefit as well as an inclusive societal and positive public relations outcome by hiring people with disabilities.
In the U.S. individuals with disabilities are seen as loyal, hardworking and dependable employees when the time is taken to make a good job match of the person’s abilities to the skill required to complete the job.
To be continued…