By Jeff White
Noted self-advocate Robert M. Hensel is frequently quoted as stating, “There is no greater disability in society, than the inability to see a person as more.” This is quite an understatement considering that Mr. Hensel is the Guinness World Records holder for the longest non-stop wheelie in a wheelchair, covering a total distance of 6.178 miles. Mr. Hensel exhibited abilities far beyond what could reasonably be expected. Now, here in Kentucky, we have the opportunity to give others like Mr. Hensel the chance to prove what they can accomplish. Sometimes, an opportunity is all that is needed.
The Kentucky Employment First Council, administered by the Human Development Institute, is charged with increasing opportunities for integrated and competitive employment for all Kentuckians with disabilities; identifying and addressing state policies that create disincentives and barriers to the employment of people with disabilities; developing trainings and resources for all involved parties on the benefits of competitive, integrated employment; recommending effective practices to providers and employers leading to community employment for people with disabilities; and, establishing measures to assess the progress of these efforts.
To improve the likelihood of successful Employment First outcomes, the Department for Behavioral Health, the Division of Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities, HDI, the Department of Education, and the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation successfully obtained an Employment First State Leadership Mentoring Program technical assistance grant to assist with the implementation of our Employment First activities. This grant, through the Office on Disability Employment Policy, will provide help in planning and coordinating efforts across agencies and organizations.
The Council has established several sub-committees to help in fulfilling the Executive Order. The sub-committees are:
- Advocacy – People with Disabilities, Families, and Others
- Employer Education and Engagement
- Providers of Disability Services and Supports
- Transition Education and Planning
If you are interested in helping people with disabilities in Kentucky make the most of their opportunities, contact us at the Human Development Institute.