Tucson organizations work to connect employers, job seekers with - Tucson News Now

Tucson organizations work to connect employers, job seekers with disabilities

(Source: KOLD News 13) (Source: KOLD News 13)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

There are an estimated 35,000 people in Tucson living with a disability, according to Linkages, a local nonprofit organization that connects employers with job seekers who have disabilities.

About 70 percent of this population is unemployed. 

Hailey Thoman, the executive director of Linkages said perception is one of the reasons the number is so high. 

"People perceive something and think, 'OK, they must not be able to do that,' and not really give that person the opportunity to explain how they would do it. What accommodations they would need. So that's definitely the biggest barrier. It's perception," Thoman said. 

Timothy Newberry was one of 375 job seekers who showed up to the annual D.R.E.A.M job fair organized by local nonprofits. 

"People with disabilities do look for work, it's just the compatibility with technology and the fact that some employers are nervous to hire people with disabilities," Newberry said. 

Newberry, who is visually impaired, said looking for a job the past several months has been nerve-racking. The hardest past has been finding a company with the technology to help him. He said computer programs like JAWS, that uses text-to-speech, help visually impaired users. 

"I find a job, I fill out the application and then I do a little more research and find out that they're not compatible with JAWS or they're not able to integrate assistive technology into their systems," Newberry said. 

He said having the chance to meet employers in person helps show them there is an untapped workforce right here in our community. 

"A blind person or visually impaired person is just as capable, if not a little bit more, of doing the same sort of jobs as a sighted person or sighted individual," Newberry said. 

You can find more resources on the Goodwill job center connections website or the Linkages website

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