Kurt’s Corner: Reflections on disability employment awareness month

Kurt Rutzen, AbleLight Disability Advocate

By Kurt Rutzen, Disability Advocate

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities want to work like everyone else. Work gives them the feeling of being included. Employers find they are very hard workers once they are given a chance. People with ID/DD also feel that working at a job gives them independence and they want that just like anyone else. People with ID/DD also want to feel self-sufficient so very much. They want dignity that comes from a job and being self-sufficient because that is so very important to them.

Personally, in my own life, if I did not have the opportunity to work, I have no idea what I would do. It really gives me a sense of belonging and I feel so good about myself in all kinds of ways.

I feel that our society sometimes just hires people with disabilities because maybe they feel sorry for them or for other reasons. This is wrong. We should be hiring people with disabilities because people with disabilities have a lot to offer and they can be great workers!

We all should support people with disabilities and employers should support them and let them know when they do something wrong so they can get better at whatever they do. We need to be focusing on helping people with disabilities find a career and not just a job. This is very important.

When people with disabilities get a job, employers sometimes think the task is done, but it is not. We need to continue to support them throughout their careers to help them reach their goals and become even better at their jobs.

We must think about ways to provide people with disabilities career opportunities all year, not just during Disability Employment Awareness Month.

About Kurt

Kurt Rutzen is a Disability Advocate for AbleLight. In his role, Kurt works throughout the 13 states AbleLight operates and helps the people we support build self-advocacy skills. Kurt, who has a disability himself, has a deep understanding of the political issues facing people with disabilities and works with our operations team to help assess state intellectual and developmental disability supports systems and identify opportunities for advancing public policy affecting people with disabilities. Prior to joining AbleLight, Rutzen served as a public policy volunteer for The Arc Minnesota and worked in a part-time capacity at the Institute on Community Integration (University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities) at the University of Minnesota.