Many New Jerseyans, especially those with limited job skills, often struggle to find employment.

But the problem is usually much worse for those with physical and intellectual disabilities.

According to Venus Majeski, the director of Development & Community Relations at the New Jersey Institute for Disabilities, finding work for those with a variety of disabilities is often dependent on finding an employer willing to provide accommodations and support.

“There certainly are many challenges to employment that people with disabilities face that are oftentimes unrecognizable,” she said.

“This goes beyond ramps and elevators. I’m not talking now about those kinds of barriers. There are attitudinal barriers that need to be breached. There needs to be in many cases a more accepting behavior amongst employers.”

She said that usually takes place after an employer has had an experience hiring someone with a disability.

“Familiarity and understanding really engender that kind of a welcoming attitude, not only among the employer but among the co-workers as well,” she said.

Majeski pointed out there are sometimes misconceptions and stereotypes that are attached to people with disabilities.

“It seems persons with disabilities and their rightful place in our society is one of the last great class struggles that our society is facing,” she said.

“All the things that are important to you and important to me — where will I work? Where will I live? Who are my friends? What’s my philosophy? — is just as important to an adult with a disability.”

She pointed out most job seekers with disabilities “are so invested in the process and so want to be successful that they will give 110 percent as an employee, and they will really become an asset to the company.”

The New Jersey Institute for Disabilities has a program of community support services with job training coaches that provide practical advice on particular job skills, and they have different partnerships with companies across New Jersey to help those with disabilities find employment.

“Businesses that offer those with disabilities a chance to work are really allowing them to become contributing members of society, to become a part of the landscape of who we are. Everyone wants to belong,” she said.

She explained the state Department of Labor also offers job training through the division of vocational rehabilitation, and they will help to find positions for candidates in a variety of businesses, including restaurants, department stores and even veterinarian offices.

She noted it’s very important for those with disabilities to recognize the need for good skills, and skilled training.

Her advice to employers is “to really have an open mind and give people the chance that they deserve.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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