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LETTERS

Do what it takes to connect people with disabilities to workplace

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While Alex Green’s Jan. 16 op-ed, Healey’s administration must include disabled people,” rightfully calls attention to the value that people living with disabilities can bring to the workforce, it is critical to note that people with disabilities cannot, must not, be lumped into one category. It’s like lumping all women together as a group. Suggesting all disabilities fall under one roof and require state services also isn’t helpful, nor is it true.

At Northeast Arc, which trains people with disabilities with skill sets for the working world, we know firsthand what it takes to advocate for inclusive policies and how best to implement them.

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Policy changes require intentionality. I am confident that the administration will seek out qualified disabled individuals the same way it is successfully seeking to diversify its team. People with disabilities must be identified using the same search criteria used for minority, ethnic, and gender diversification.

At the same time, policy changes can be made to mandate the hiring of people with disabilities. Jim Cassetta of Work Inc. has been trying to push legislation that would require anyone issued a state contract for services such as janitorial, landscaping, and food services to have a minimum of 20 percent of their workforce made up of people with disabilities. This is a meaningful piece of legislation.

Data show that hiring a person with a disability for a full-time job improves their quality of life and reduces their reliance on social services.

We have made great strides at every level to include the voices of people with disabilities. It’s time to ensure that they’re included in the workforce.

Jo Ann Simons

CEO

Northeast Arc

Danvers