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Filling gaps in the workforce

Everyday people are faced with troubles. Some days can be harder than others. Sometimes we dream of living better, having our own place, being able to contribute to society, and be independent. People with disabilities have these same dreams, dreams of working and being independent which are often unattainable due their being overlooked or outright discriminated against based on their disability.

On July 26, 1990, the lives of people with disabilities changed when the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed by President George W. Bush. The ADA was signed into law to help people with disabilities by providing protection from discrimination in employment, are able to access public establishments and public transportation, and making sure employers provide reasonable accommodations in the workplace.

For years, we have relied on contract workers to be part of the workforce in the CNMI. With recent events of contract workers being denied work permits maybe we can consider our population of people with disabilities as a viable option to filling some of the gaps.

Many people with disabilities in the CNMI have voiced their eagerness to work, but employers are not willing to hire them because they assume that they are not able to perform the duties and responsibilities of the job.

Employers further assume that it is difficult to train people with disabilities, or that it will cost employers too much money to provide reasonable accommodations. The fact is that there are programs, like the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), that can supplement any such costs. And once you get that one employer who takes the time to teach or train, and that one employer who is willing to provide the reasonable supports in the workplace, people with disabilities have proven over and over again that they will come to work, and that they tend to be very loyal employees. In many cases, finding a loyal employee is half the battle.

For more information on disability related issues please call NMPASI at 235-7273/4 (voice) 235-7275 (fax) or visit our website www.nmpasi.org

Cleo Nening
NMPASI client advocate

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