Committee Promotes Workplace Equality - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Committee Promotes Workplace Equality

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During the last legislative session, lawmakers approved funding for a committee to discuss employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The committee met for the first time today.

Finding ways to better integrate people with disabilities in the workforce is a top priority for this group appointed by Governor Dalrymple.  

"The committee is very, very important because it promotes integrated competitive employment to persons with disabilities," says vocational rehabilitation director Ross Cusack.

Which he says is important so that these individuals are paid at or above minimum wage and able to work in an environment with non-disabled people.

"Think about our own lives and how we might meet people, friends. It's through work a lot of the time and some people can even meet spouses through work. So having an individual with a disability have that same experience, well that's where they meet a peer group and develop a peer group," says Cusack.

And so far North Dakota is doing well.

In fact, North Dakota has the highest rate in the country of persons with disabilities employed in the state.

"That's because I think people in North Dakota see ability rather than disability. And how more perfect to maintain that then having a person with disabilities work in an integrated environment with non disabled people who can then see that person as a person with abilities," says Cusack.

And the committee hopes that statistic can only get better.

"With the amount of jobs that we have in the state and opportunities that we have, we feel that this committee will provide great input to Governor Dalrymple," says Tom Alexander, North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities.

Input they hope will promote some change in the way disabled people are accepted into the workforce.

The committee issues yearly reports on its findings.

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