People with disabilities want to work, they have skills that they can bring to the table, and if given the chance at a position that fits their skills, they can excel. On A&E’s groundbreaking new series The Employables, premiering on May 15th, viewers will see these three facts come to life.
Each episode of The Employables will feature two people with disabilities who are trying to find jobs. The first episode features Jeff, an autistic man with a stutter, and James, a man with Tourettes. Their families are supportive of them, but they both want to be more independent. They have valuable skills but they just haven’t gotten the right opportunity.
One of the most important things that the show highlights is that both men have abilities that make them stand out from the crowd. Jeff and James meet with job coaches in the episode, and take comprehension tests with them. It turns out that Jeff would score better on a test on language comprehension than 91 out of 100 people. And according to his coach, James’ verbal comprehension is “off the charts.” Jeff and James are both given the advice to disclose their disabilities, because with the right accommodations, they could both be major assets to an employer.
“The Employables showcases some of the challenges that people with disabilities face in trying to find jobs and be independent,” said Lauren Appelbaum, RespectAbility’s VP of Communications. “Highly skilled candidates who could be major assets to the right employer are not being given a chance.”
Representations of People with Disabilities On-Screen Still Rare
With Hollywood striving to boost diversity and inclusion, opening the inclusion umbrella for America’s largest minority – the one-in-five Americans with a disability – is the right thing to do as well as economically smart given that the disability market is valued at more than $1 trillion. The Employables is the latest in a long list of A&E shows that shine a spotlight on disability. Last year, A&E aired Deaf Out Loud, a documentary that followed the lives of three predominantly deaf families who utilize different communication modalities in everyday life. A&E is also the network that aired Born This Way, a reality show starring people with Down syndrome who want to achieve independence.
Like Will and Grace and Modern Family helped to change perceptions of the LGBTQ community, an increase in diverse and authentic portrayals of people with disabilities on television can help to end stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities. Shows like The Employables are presenting people with disabilities for who they are, and that is worth celebrating.
Disability Unemployment In Need of a Spotlight
According to the Census Bureau, there are more than 56 million Americans living with a disability. Disabilities include visible conditions such as spinal cord injuries, visual impairments or hearing loss and invisible disabilities such as learning disabilities, mental health or Autism. In the United States, there are more than 20-million working-age peoplewith disabilities. However, only 37 percent of them are employed. Only 111,804 people with disabilities entered the workforce in 2017, down from the previous year’s increase of over 343,000 new jobs for people with disabilities.
Brand name companies such as JP Morgan Chase, Coca-Cola, Ernst & Young, IBM, Walgreen’s, Starbucks, CVS and Microsoft show people with disabilities are successful employees. These companies also know that these workers improve the bottom line. The impact of employees with disabilities is well documented and include: higher retention rates, productivity levels, lower absenteeism and lower injury rates.
“People with disabilities bring unique characteristics and talents to the workplace,” added RespectAbility President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “There are no limits to what they can do when given the chance.”
Visit A&E’s website to learn more about The Employables and find out what time it will be broadcast in your area.
Woman: I have Tourettes and I’m looking for a job.
Voiceover: In a world set up for the typical…
Man: Some people see me as a kooky guy on the autism spectrum.
Voiceover: It’s been impossible for them to find work.
Woman: I’ve been unemployed 10 years
Man: 15 years
Man: I want a job like anybody else.
Voiceover: Until now
Man: Your verbal comprehension – it’s off the charts.
Woman: You have outstanding scores.
Man: You’re incredible.
Woman: One door will open. That’s all you need is one door.
Man: Getting a job today could be one of the greatest things that could happen to me.
Voiceover: The Employables premieres May 15th on A&E.