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Your UCP: National October 13, 2003

For Job Seekers

Bridging the Gap Between the Disability Community and Employers, 2/7/01

AAPD forms a partnership with JobOptions.com - helps companies effectively recruit people with disabilities

CLEVELAND - February 7, 2001 - This country is in the midst of a labor shortage, but it doesn't have to be. For whatever reason, companies are overlooking a pool of skilled, dedicated workers that seek employment: people with disabilities.

According to the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), 35 million Americans with a disability are of working age. This diverse population includes people with a variety of physical and mental impairments, many of whom have advanced degrees and substantial work experience. Seventy-percent of this community currently are not working, leaving their talent and degrees unutilized.

"It can often be difficult for recruiters to find disabled workers; many of them do not know how to begin their search," said Andrew J. Imparato, president and CEO for the AAPD. "Part of our mission is to help recruiters with their outreach efforts and connect them with a qualified person with a disability."

The association recently formed a partnership with JobOptions.com, an e-cruitment solutions provider. The partnership provides AAPD members with all the necessary resources to find employment, including the ability to network with companies in cyberspace and post a resume for recruiters to see.

The career site is accessible to all people with disabilities. "A major milestone is developing this career center was making it accessible to the disability community," said Michael Forrest, president of JobOptions.com. "A lot of sites are not accessible, especially to the visually impaired. JobOptions and AAPD were totally committed to making all the necessary modifications to the site and using the best technology available to ensure it could accommodate AAPD members."

As a network partner, AAPD joins JobOptions' Diversity Channel, a network of powerful sites that reaches predominantly minority audiences and boasts an unusually diverse population of registrants with 33.7% minorities - significantly greater than overall Internet demographics where minorities represent only 13% of the user base, according to Media Mark Research, Inc.

Dispelling Myths

Companies are starting to realize there isn't a high cost involved when hiring a person with a disability. Time magazine reported that most workplace accommodations that have to be made for people with disabilities usually cost lest than $200.

"Companies that are not educated about people with disabilities often wonder how much it is going to cost them, what effects will it have on their insurance claims, and what accommodations they will have to make," said Mark Johnson, advocacy coordinator with the Shepherd Center and a member of AAPD. "There are many corporate myths similar to these, but the more willing a company is to learn, the easier it gets."

"Hiring a person with a disability need not cost anything more than hiring a person without a disability," said Imparato. "Most accommodations don't cost the employer anything."

"The environment has improved since the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990," said Johnson. "People are becoming more open about their disabilities and people's attitudes are changing."

Founded in 1995, AAPD is a national membership organization comprised of people with disabilities, their friends and supporters, whose membership is nearly 24,000. AAPD's mission is to advance the economic and political power of all people with disabilities.

Founded in 1991, JobOptions.com has been the fastest-growing recruitment network on the Web. JobOptions.com, headquartered in Cleveland, OH, is a subsidiary of Spherion Corporation (NYSE: SFN), a $3.7 billion human capital management company.

Contact: Michelle Vocaire

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