Sat. Jun 10th, 2023
The Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council (MODDC) believes everyone who identifies work as a goal is employable, with the right opportunities and support. People with disabilities have the right to, and should, receive individualized supports and reasonable accommodations to help them prepare for and attain competitive employment. Competitive employment means jobs in the community, working alongside people without disabilities and earning at least minimum wage.
As part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, self-advocate Jonah Taylor invited his legislator, State Rep. Jerome Barnes, District 28, to come and experience his workday with him. Rep. Barnes accompanied Jonah to a client location in Independence.
Jonah Taylor owns Jonah Vending. Jonah partners with his dad and his job coach from DPI Employment Connections. They place and service Coca-Cola vending machines throughout the Kansas City area. Jonah requires supports to be successful including an augmentative and alternative communication or AAC device. An AAC device is a tablet or laptop that helps someone with a speech or language impairment to communicate. While Jonah independently stocks soda vending machines, he requires significant assistance with all other aspects of vending services.
“We believe any individual is employable with supports,” says his father Tony Taylor.
“Simple job modifications and supports are available to help people with disabilities be successful and earn a competitive wage and benefits,” says Stacy Morse, program coordinator for MODDC. “When people earn higher wages from working in competitive employment, they become less reliant on government aide.”
Missourians interested in resources that make the workplace accessible are encouraged to check out the Job Accommodation Network at www.askjan.org, and the Disability Benefits 101 Estimator Tool at www.mo.db101.org, which shows how earnings affect wage-based benefits.
Employees with disabilities are encouraged to reach out their legislator to share their career goals and experiences in the workplace to raise awareness and advocate on this important issue.
“Mentoring and coaching initiatives are vital lifelines to ensure that persons with disabilities develop and succeed in the workplace,” says Rep. Barnes.
The Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council is a federally-funded, 23-member, consumer-driven council appointed by the Governor. Its mandate under P.L. 106-402, the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, is to assure that individuals with developmental disabilities and their families participate in the design of and have access to needed community services, individualized supports, and other forms of assistance that promote self-determination, independence, productivity and integration in all aspects of community life.
To learn more or to get involved, visit www.moddcouncil.org.