The Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council (MODDC) believes that everyone who recognizes work as a goal is employable with appropriate opportunities and support. Persons with disabilities are entitled and should receive individualized support and reasonable accommodation to assist them in preparing for and achieving competitive employment. Competitive employment means a job in a community that works alongside people without disabilities and earns at least the minimum wage.
As part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, self-advocate Jonah Taylor invited his legislator, Rep. Jerome Burns of the 28th District, to work with him. Rep. Burns accompanied Jonah to the Independence client’s location.
Jonah Taylor owns Jonah Bending. Jonah has partnered with her father and her coach on her DPI Employment Connections job. They install and serve Coca-Cola vending machines throughout the Kansas City area. Jonah must be successful in supporting including supplemental and alternative communications or AAC devices. AAC devices are tablets or laptops that help people with speech and language disabilities communicate. Jonah independently stocks a soda vending machine, but needs a lot of help with all other aspects of the vending service.
“We believe that anyone can be supported and employed.” says his father, Tony Taylor.
MODDC program coordinator Stacy Morse said: “When people work in competitive jobs and earn higher wages, they become less dependent on government aid.”
Missourians interested in resources to make their workplace more accessible are encouraged to check out the Job Accommodation Network at www.askjan.org and the Disability Benefits 101 Estimator Tool at www.mo.db101.org. .
Employees with disabilities are encouraged to reach out to legislators to share their career goals and experiences at work to raise awareness and advocate for this important issue.
“Mentoring and coaching initiatives are a vital lifeline to ensuring that people with disabilities thrive and succeed in the workplace.” Senator Burns said.
The Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council is a federally funded, consumer-driven council of 23 members appointed by the Governor. Its mandate under PL 106-402 (Developmental Disability Assistance and Bill of Rights Act) is to enable individuals with developmental disabilities and their families to participate in the design of needed community services, individualized support, and other forms of assistance and is to allow access to Promote self-determination, independence, productivity and integration in all aspects of community life.
For more information or to participate, please visit www.moddcouncil.org.