TXHireAbility: Employment of Texans with Disabilities

people with disabilities in yellow shirts marching during Austin's white cane day

This October, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities and Workforce Solutions board partners collaborated to launch the Texas HireAbility campaign. The campaign’s goals are to raise awareness about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities and connect Texas employers with job seekers with disabilities. The timing of the campaign’s launch is no coincidence. Since 1945, October has been a time for our nation to celebrate the contributions of Americans with disabilities in the workforce and raise awareness about disability employment issues. Texas celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Persons with Disabilities History and Awareness Month, and National White Cane Safety Day.

“We are proud to kick off the Texas HireAbility campaign to connect the significant skills and abilities of people with disabilities with opportunities created by Texas employers,” said TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar. “Through this campaign, employers will better connect to these valuable workers to meet their workforce needs.”

Currently, 35 percent of Texans with disabilities ages 16 to 64 are employed in the Lone Star State. TWC and its Texas HireAbility partners are working to increase that number. Job fairs and educational events were held by Workforce Solutions and Vocational Rehabilitation Services offices statewide throughout October. These events helped employers learn more about recruiting, hiring and retaining employees with disabilities and provided opportunities for employers to accept résumés, applications and conduct interviews with promising job seekers. White Cane Safety Day and other events also were held to highlight the independence, contributions and achievements of people with disabilities in Texas.

“Employers are always looking for innovative ways to expand their businesses by hiring skilled workers,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs. “Through the Texas HireAbility campaign, employers will have access to additional resources to help them connect with this segment of the workforce.”

These resources are available to employers, workforce organizations and others on the campaign webpage (TXHireAbility.texasworkforce.org). The webpage includes a Texas HireAbility fact sheet, links to Texas HireAbility public service announcements featuring Research Compliance Officer and 2008 Miss Wheelchair Texas Michelle Covard, and the webinar How Creating a Culture of Accessibility Positively Impacts Business. “Employers move to Texas because of our strong and diverse workforce,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Julian Alvarez.

“I encourage all Texans to celebrate the contributions of workers with disabilities and to support Texas’ commitment to workforce diversity.”

For information visit: TXHireAbility.texasworkforce.org.

Statewide October Event Highlights

  • El Paso / UTEP Ability Awareness Week: Workforce Solutions staff participated in weeklong activities focusing on serving people with disabilities and creating awareness for employers, students and the community.
  • Wichita Falls / Transition Fair: Workforce Solutions staff held an annual job fair for area high school students with disabilities. Representatives from businesses, post-secondary schools and the military spoke to students about their education and career choices after high school graduation.
  • Harlingen / Employer and Rehabilitation Network (EARN) Forum: Businesses participated in the EARN Forum, which promotes workforce diversity. Discussion topics included TWC’s Skills Development Fund grants, employment discrimination, employing individuals with disabilities, and recruiting and hiring youth.
  • Austin AHEAD (Alliance Helping Employers Achieve Diversity) Job Fair: More than 100 job candidates, including veterans and students attended the event. Participating employers included eBay, the Texas General Land Office, and PLAN of Central Texas, Inc. (PLANCTX). Positions were available in technical, management, accounting, administration, social services and other industry sectors. “AHEAD is a great opportunity for employers and job seekers to connect with their peers,” said PLANCTX representative Anna Lisa Conlin. “We were looking for specific and targeted employees, and AHEAD featured job seekers who were prepared with their resumes, ready to talk about the exact kind of jobs they’re looking for. AHEAD is a great opportunity for employers and job seekers to connect with their peers.”