October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month—a celebration dedicated to recognizing the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities, past and present. However, the Fishers Advisory Committee on Disability works year-round to provide individuals with disabilities in our community with meaningful and rewarding employment opportunities that benefit not only the employee, but the employer as well.  

The Committee’s Employment subcommittee, led by Michelle Steltz and Chrissy Pogue, empowers local employees with the resources and knowledge to effectively hire and manage employees with disabilities, while also working with employees to provide support and guidance during the process. Along with hosting special events, such as the Reverse Job Fair this month, the committee leads the Fishers Disability Inclusion Business Networking Group to connect vocational training specialists with HR representatives to provide a network of potential employees with area employers. 

group of people standing together

“I love getting to work with other Fishers employers to discover this workforce and see the positive impact for the employer and the employee,” said Steltz.  

In 2019, 68.7% of working age Hoosiers without a disability were currently employed, compared to only 20.8% Hoosiers with a disability. This alarming discrepancy is something that Steltz and Pogue, along with the committee, are working to change.   

“We work with individuals who have amazing skills and are great assets to businesses,” explained Pogue. “We often hear how the students we support bring joy to the culture of the workplace, not just for their co-workers, but to the customers as well. It’s encouraging to see the work of this committee in helping to expand opportunities for students to have meaningful work as they enter adulthood.” 

Knowledge is power, and for both the candidate and the employer, knowing where to start is key. The following local resources, compiled by the committee, can help with that process.   

Specialized Resources Serving Hamilton County 

  • Vocational Rehabilitation Services, commonly referred to as “VR,” is a state program that can provide quality individualized services to enhance and support people with any kind of disability to prepare for, obtain or retain employment. For additional questions on eligibility or to request support, contact 317-205-0100. 
  • BOSMA Enterprises partners with businesses to provide products, supply chain management and logistics to create jobs and training programs for people who are blind. Learn more about BOSMA here. 
  • Relay Indiana is a free service that provides full telecommunications accessibility to people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired. This service allows users with special telecommunication devices to communicate with standard users through specially trained Relay Operators. 
  • LUNA provides 24/7 language services in over 200 spoken languages and American Sign Language. Services include interpreting, translation, localization, transcription, video voice-over, and training & development. 
  • Easterseals Crossroads provides a wide range of employment services to adults with disabilities who are seeking meaningful employment opportunities. They utilize a self-supporting business model by employing people with disabilities to support its services for those with disabilities.  

    Hamilton County Organizations Connecting Candidates with Employers

    • HSE Schools Department of Exceptional Learners: Seeking work trials and experiences for secondary ed youth as an integral part of their transitional educational experience. You can contact Chrissy Pogue, Transition Specialist, for more information at cpogue@hse.k12.in.us or 317-594-4190. ext. 8179. 
    • Janus Developmental Services: Seeking opportunities for individuals transitioning from student to adult employment life through our Community Employment Program. Learn more about Janus here, or contact Tim White, VP of Client Services at tjwhite@janus-inc.org or 317-773-8781. 
    • Opportunities for Positive Growth: Seeking partnerships to assist people in finding and maintaining employment through Employment Services. Visit the website or contact Gary Burns, Director of Employment Services, at gburns@opgrowth.com or 765-480-1139. 
    • Outside the Box: Seeking work opportunities, volunteer experiences, and job trials for individuals through Employment Supports and small groups in our OTB Works Program. Learn more at OTB’s website or contact Amy Bonner, Coordinator of Community Career Support Services, at abonner@otbonline.org or 317-253-6658. 

      To learn more about the Fishers Advisory Committee on Disability, click here.