Hiring Employees with Disabilities

The Learning Academy Employment Services at USF 


Employers know that staff turnover is very expensive. From hiring time, to retraining, to supervising new employees, employers spend countless hours and dollars sustaining their workforce. People’s lives change all the time causing them to leave their jobs and move on. A more stable workforce that is loyal, responsible and dedicated to the business is what many employers wish for.

If your company has considered hiring people with disabilities, The Learning Academy Employment Services at the University of South Florida can assist with finding and developing the right people for the job, while building a diverse and sustainable workforce. Our goal is to minimize turnover costs by connecting businesses to competent people who are seeking long-term employment. We will work with you to identify the position requirements, match a person with the qualities you are seeking, assist in the hiring and training process as needed, and be available to consult on a regular basis to maximize successful outcomes. We provide all this at no cost to the employer.

To speak to one of our successes, Izzy is a graduate of the Learning Academy, a social skills and employment readiness program we offer at the University of South Florida for young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. When asked what she’d like to do next, she said she was interested in a job serving food. We approached Aramark, a food service company, to introduce them to Izzy. When the interviewers met Izzy and saw her portfolio, they became interested in supporting her to find a job with them.

Izzy now works for Champions’ Choice, a student dining hall at the University of South Florida run by Aramark that caters to student athletes. She has been a server and cleaner there for almost three years and loves her job. She won a service award and was recently given new responsibilities of baking cookies, her dream job come true.

Izzy likes her work routines and wearing a uniform, and she gets along with her coworkers, but she also appreciates that other people understand her and let her be herself. She gets along well with her supervisor, and also has a coworker she can talk to if needed. She is always at work early, in spite of a difficult commute.

Success stories like Izzy’s reminds us that it does not take much for an employer to support an employee with a disability. We hope to create a network of future business leaders who pave the way for diversity efforts that benefit employers, employees, and positively impact our economy.

Top 5: Food for Thought for Employers:

  • Sometimes the way we’ve always done it isn’t the way we need to do things. Hiring people with disabilities should move from a theory of American’s With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance to practice of inclusion for all.
  • Hiring people with disabilities is the right thing to do when the person meets the essential qualifications for the position with or without accommodations.
  • Each person is an individual and hiring decisions should be made on a case by case basis.
  • In addition to people with disabilities having a variety of education levels and skill sets, people with disabilities, also bring a diverse and unique problem solving perspective into the workplace based on accommodating their disability throughout their lifetime.
  • It’s alright to let employees with disabilities and the agencies that support them know that you are still learning about disabilities and how to best accommodate employees as needed.

SusanRichmondTo schedule a meeting to learn more about what the Learning Academy Employment Services can do for your business, please contact Susan Richmond, Learning Academy Coordinator at 813-974- 2996. You can also access our website at http://learningacademy.fmhi.usf.edu/employment/index.html.