There is a perception people who have a disability work best in the sales and service sector. While that environment and workplace is suitable for some people, it is presumptuous to think that all people who have a disability want to work in retail or restaurant settings or that this is the best work setting for everyone in this demographic.
While representation of people who have a disability in other industries is limited, there is a case to be made for engaging talent in all aspects of the economic spectrum. The range of skills, interests and aptitudes of those who have a disability is as broad as in the rest of the society; when you consider 40% of people with a disability have post-secondary qualifications, we need to see beyond this misconception.
People who have a disability are underrepresented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) jobs compared with the overall population according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau.
Those who do succeed share qualities of acceptance, tenacity, and resilience. By necessity, an engineer or coder with a disability has well-honed problem-solving skills – skills that make for an extraordinary engineer or coder. A January 2017 article, published in the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers, focused on this very issue in an interview with a candidate with a disability.
“I told [the interviewer] I know how to solve problems. I know how to look for solutions. Despite what you’re looking at, I’m a go-getter. If I don’t know how to do it, I’ll learn it and I’ll get it done,” he says. Faurecia made an offer and Driscoll is still with the company 15 years later. Kurt Driscoll endured more than 100 interviews over 10 months before he was finally hired.
In Japan, Omron Kyoto Taiyo established a manufacturing plant in 1985 to provide work opportunities for people who have disabilities. It took a year for the factory to be fully operational. Fast forward to Omron Kyoto Taiyo today and some 140 people who have a disability, including those with severe disabilities, are engaged in manufacturing tasks that command their individual potential.
What is most impressive is the policy that Omron follows to have machines adapt to human operators, rather than the opposite, in every corner of the factory. This helps bring out the full capabilities of each operator.