|By Katherine Blunt Katherineblunt@gazettecom -; Katherine blunt [email protected] -|
On Friday, the
The gap in his resume is the reason for his current unemployment: A car accident 13 years ago left him mentally and physically impaired. Though he learned to walk again, the traumatic brain injury he sustained permanently affected his gait and his short- term memory. His
"I want to work because I want to lead a more fulfilling life," he said.
Thomas attended the job fair at the Freedom Financial Services Expo Center to meet with representatives from nearly 40 companies looking to hire, all of which can make accommodations for people with certain disabilities. Organized by the Independence Center, a service provider for the disabled community in an eight-county area that includes El Paso County, the fair was part of a two-day event that showcased companies and organizations that help disabled individuals achieve independence.
"We think one of the main ways to become independent is to have a job, and disabled people are often regarded as unable to work," said
The businesses represented at the fair ranged from Waffle House to
"As long as they can do the job physically, we will consider them," he said.
Several barriers exist for disabled individuals seeking employment. The two forms of federal benefits available for the disabled limit the number of hours or the amount of money they can make in order to qualify. The complex requirements can make it difficult for employers to integrate disabled individuals into their businesses, said
"As (disabled people) go out and seek employment, they have to tell their employer they want part-time work, which should not put them over that limit," he said. "What's really sad is they do lose everything if they go over."
According to the
But if attendance is any indication, interest in jobs and services for the disabled is strong in
"I think we're on the cusp of a transformation in how we work with people with disabilities," Yeager said. "We are much more a part of the community than we ever were before."