The 2023 Wichita Business Journal Table of Experts Panel discussion focuses on employing people with disabilities. Emily Hurst with Envision Inc., Shelia Brown with KETCH, and Collin McKenney with Starkey answer questions in this year's panel.
What are common misconceptions about employing people with disabilities?
EMILY HURST, Envision Inc.: At Envision, we prefer not to use the term “differently abled.” We believe that people who are blind or visually impaired or have another disability are people-first and are just as capable as a sighted person, therefore there is no need to label them as “different.”
Overcoming the concern of a person with a disability fitting into the workplace simply requires understanding and empathy. This is why many people at Envision are constantly in the community, at school districts and businesses, giving presentations and teaching people and employers who are sighted that people who are BVI can work and just need certain tools to work to the best of their ability.
COLIN MCKENNEY, Starkey: We have numerous examples of individuals we have supported to find the right job, and who then became one of the most popular employees at that work site. Beyond that, the question seems a little dated. You could ask the same question about someone’s religion, country of origin, race, gender, height, appearance, political party, etc. Someone’s work ethic, reliability and personality would seem to be much better predictors of their chances of long-term success at a given job, and those are the positives we strive to bring to each job placement.
SHEILA BROWN, Ketch: When is this different with any new hire? If people can fulfill the task, they deserve a chance to prove themselves. Doing so allows co-workers to increase their awareness of and even become inspired by the perseverance and skill of their new co-workers.
To read more from this year's Wichita Business Journal Table of Experts Panel, please visit this link.