INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Finding a job is tough. Finding a job if you're disabled, even tougher.
As director of the employment division of Easter Seals Crossroads in Indianapolis, Bruce Schnaith helps people find jobs. Recently, he was sitting in his office, working with Ericka Engler - who hasn't worked in 6 months.
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Engler has experience, education and desire, but she also has a disability: she is visually impaired.
"It's frustrating," she said, "because I know I have the abilities. I know that I'm smart. I know that I'm capable."
But she has to explain to employers that her disability doesn't hamper her abilities.
"I can do everything that other people do - people without disabilities," she said. "I just have to do it in a different way."
Erika is not alone. Nearly 16 percent of the nation's disabled people were unemployed in May. That's almost twice the rate of those without disabilities. And Schnaith said he suspects the rate is actually much higher than reported.
"A lot of times it's a matter of education. It's a matter of helping employers understand the ins and outs of working with people with disabilities, how to support people with disabilities, and really providing the education," he said.
Engler said it comes down to getting an opportunity.
"It may take me a little longer to do something," she said. "But you give me that task, and I will do it as good or better as the next person."
Despite the bleak numbers, Schnaith said he is optimistic the situation is getting better. Placements have become easier in the past six months, he said, and there is more interest from employers.
Engler said she too is optimistic. Her goal is to get a paycheck again, and she believes that will happen. She just isn't quite sure when.
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