Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities can make incredible employees for companies both big and small. This population is severely underrepresented in the workplace, and research has shown that adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities can be more productive and loyal employees if they work for a company that they love.
About 6.5 million people in the United States have an intellectual or developmental disability. Only 19.1% of people that population are employed in the United States, compared to the employment rate of people without disabilities, which is 61.8%. Less than one out of every two working-age adults with ID is in the labor force, and 28% have never held a job.
“Sometimes, employers think that people with IDD are going to be out more often, that they’re not going to be able to grasp the training. This is actually not true,” Debra Ruh, CEO of Ruh Global IMPACT and a disability advocate, said in an interview with Understood.
Ross Barchacky, head of partnerships at Inclusively, which connects employers to disabled workers and provides employer education, says that employer bias frequently gets in the way of giving IDD workers an equal chance.
Barchacky said that some employers also don’t want to hire someone with IDD because of perceived risks. “Nobody wants to say that. But at the end of the day, the employer feels like they’re taking all the risks with very little reward,” he explained. “I think that’s a lack of an understanding of the process and the system, [as well as] the potential benefits to hiring people with disabilities.”
In order to ensure that their adult children have access to jobs, some parents are opening businesses specifically to train and employ individuals with IDD. In Middletown New Jersey, the Cartier family opened “No Limits Café”. The lunch café employs IDD adults and trains them in the restaurant industry and then works with them to find meaningful employment opportunities with other businesses in the community.
Howdy Ice Cream, with locations in North Carolina, Texas and New Mexico, is all about two things: amazing ice cream and even better people. Their mission is the relentless pursuit of jobs for adults with special needs. They hope to change the way the world looks at everyone.
Employing and training individuals with IDD is a win-win for the company and society.
*Sources: H-R Brew, CDC, No Limits Café and Howdy Ice Cream