Including anyone with a disability, if they desire.

In my home state of Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear recently passed an Employment First law that declares that it is the policy of the Commonwealth of Kentucky that competitive integrated employment shall be considered the first and primary option for persons with disabilities of working age who desire to become employed. This was a huge win for the individuals with disabilities and many of the clients that we serve through my nonprofit, Puzzle Pieces.

In our division Employment Opportunities, my team helps those with disabilities find meaningful employment in a field that they desire. Since launching this division, our they have helped more than 60 clients find jobs in the local workforce. From restaurants, banking, factories, retail and more, clients are finding jobs that fulfill them and allow them to gain independence.

DID YOU KNOW an individual with a disability has the right to: 

• Try out jobs without their earnings having a negative impact on their benefits. 

• Work in the community alongside people with and without disabilities.

• Earn minimum wage or more for doing their work. 

• Request reasonable accommodations (things that help them do their job). 

• Not tell their employer about their disability unless they are asking for accommodations. 

• Privacy about their disability and accommodations. 

• Be treated fairly by others. 

• Choose their employment field. For example, they don’t have to be a janitor if they don’t want to do that type of work. 

• Apply for jobs that interest them. 

• Get help in planning for life after high school. 

• File a complaint if they believe you’ve been discriminated against.

I was appointed by Gov. Andy Beshear to the Kentucky Employment First Council. This Council includes people with disabilities, family members, employers, government agencies, and other stakeholders, all with the shared intention of improving competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities in the Commonwealth. I am honored to serve in this role and hope to continue my mission of providing opportunities and independence for those with disabilities.

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