“What many employers don’t realize is that investing in employees with disabilities will yield tremendous results,” shares Dana Van Dussen, Senior Director of Human Resources at The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. “It has been proven that workers with and without disabilities benefit equally from a diverse work setting.”
She explains, “people with a disability often bring new ideas to the table that have not been considered by others. They have to be innovative and ingenious in order to overcome the additional challenges they face. This opens the door to allow more creativity and solutions. The more inclusion and awareness, the more productivity you will see.”
Dana understands the challenges and strengths that come with having a disability firsthand. When she was 15, she was diagnosed with Usher syndrome. Usher syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that causes a combination of hearing loss and a degenerative eye condition known as retinitis pigmentosa. Learn more about retinitis pigmentosa >>
Not only is Dana disabled herself, but she’s also seen this phenomenon in action in the 17 years she’s worked at the Lighthouse.
Disability Employment at the Lighthouse
The Lighthouse empowers people by creating diverse, sustainable, and meaningful employment opportunities for people who are blind, DeafBlind, and blind with other disabilities. Dana shares, “the Lighthouse invests in our employees. We bridge the gaps that otherwise may prevent a disabled person from working. Once the tools are provided, employees at the Lighthouse will take it from there, grow and excel at their jobs.”
She continues, “if you look at our outcomes, such as our revenue, high quality ratings, growth and opportunities, you’ll notice we’re definitely special!” See results in the Lighthouse’s latest Annual Report to the Community >>
National Disability Employment Awareness Month
The Lighthouse is proud to support National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Held each October, NDEAM highlights disability employment issues and celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities.
Up to 70% of adults who are blind in the U.S. are unemployed or under-employed. “I believe lack of awareness and stigma are the biggest barriers,” Dana shares. “Lack of accessibility is another huge barrier, including transportation.”
Benefits of Disability Employment
Dana believes that there are many benefits that employing people with disabilities offers. “For individuals, having a job presents the opportunity to learn new things, gain skills, meet new people and better grow themselves,” she shares.
“Having a job provides the ability to make decisions. With a job, people have the autonomy to set some of their work parameters, are responsible for their product or service, and get to use creativity in how to do their job.”
In fact, skills that people learn at the Lighthouse are often transferrable to other jobs and employees’ lives, as well. “Many of the skills and knowledge learned on the job are skills that can be used to gain more independence. For example, some employees come to the Lighthouse with little or no computer skills. After taking computer classes, they are able to apply those skills elsewhere and can now use email and the internet at home.”
“Bottom line, having a job increases confidence. Confidence is one of the key ingredients in becoming more independent!”
Job Opportunities at the Lighthouse
The Lighthouse is a leader in disability employment! We offer a wide range of job opportunities. Current openings range from retail associate, employment advocate, buyers and production workers, just to name a few. Browse job openings for people who are blind >>