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As employers seek workers, Hoosiers with disabilities getting passed over

MUNCIE, Ind. (WISH) — Only 19% of all disabled persons in the United States were employed in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Arc of Indiana is trying to change that. Arc advocates for people with disabilities. It’s Chief Operating Officer estimates there are 200,000 individuals in Indiana with disabilities, yet only 23% of them are employed.

“I think it’s not just a post COVID thing, the Arc of Indiana, through our chapter network for more employment opportunities for decades now,” said Arc COO Andy Kirby.

In 2016, The Arc of Indiana opened the Erskine Green Training Institute in Muncie. The institute provides hands on training in the food service, health care and hospitality industry.

“Very rarely is someone going to say, oh I enjoy being at the hospital, so I guess my separate job for me is to make them feel as comfortable as they can,” said Jean-Rony Warner who is a graduate of the institute.

Warner works as a medical transporter at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital.

Jaime Beck, a housekeeper at Ball Memorial Hospital said she applied for numerous jobs in her hometown of Richmond but could only land a gig at a local Pizza King. After going through Erskine Green, she got a full time job in housekeeping at the same hospital.

“They look at us differently,” Beck said of prospective employers. “What I do is show them what I can do. There are times they didn’t realize I had a disability.”

Although Warner loves his job he has bigger goals for his professional career.

“Because I love wildlife and I also love people, I also love to walk, I want to see where it goes. I want to see if I can become a park ranger,” Warner said.