MASON CITY, Iowa – More than 11 percent of Iowans have some sort of disability, that’s according to the most recent U.S. census data, and about half of those with a disability in the state are working.
The Dimensional Group is a Mason City business that is proud of the work they do, from making three ring binders to commercial printing.
But what they really take pride in, is that they’re able to hire those who may have a physical or mental disability.
“I think the biggest thing is having an understanding of the situation or the employees that are looking I think businesses as a whole need to not hear the word disability and get gun shy,” said Virginia Fransiscus.
Fransiscus is the Marketing Director at the company, and says they’re just trying to do their part to help people in the community get a job.
“I think the biggest thing is as soon as someone hears the word disabilities it makes them nervous, makes them kind of scared, or gun shy of that person and I think the big thing is identifying what disability the person has and being able to work with it,” said Fransiscus.
And Michelle Krefft with Iowa Vocational Rehabilitaion Services couldn’t agree more.
Her goal is to help those who may have a disability find a job that suits their skill set, and their work is reflecting within companies in the area.
“I can tell you here in North Iowa we are very fortunate, the businesses recognize the value of hiring people with disabilities,” said Krefft.
Krefft says this type of hiring can also help our economy, especially when it comes filling the middle income jobs gap.
“The difference between high school graduate and a four year degree there is a lot of jobs in the local market and not enough job candidates so it’s really important for businesses recognize all people as a good job candidate to fill that gap,” said Krefft.
And Fransiscus says it pays to avoid putting people into categories, before getting to know them and what they’re capable of.
“I think that the number is so great because disability is a large category. You can have someone with a hearing impairment that is perfectly capable of doing anything anyone else can do, or you could have someone that does have a true physical disability that maybe can’t walk very well on their own or can’t do something with their hands but just because the word disability is thrown into play, doesn’t mean they’re not capable of doing something else in your plant or in your office that you need them to do,” said Fransiscus.
Krefft says October is National Disabilty Awareness Month, and because of that Iowa Workforce plans to meet with businesses around the area to find out what more they can do to help hire those with disabilities.
They will also be meeting with the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Iowa as well.