An Employer’s Perspective on Hiring People with Disabilities

Nancy Liebhart and Karrie Zubke working with Kristi, who has a developmental disability

When an employer is looking to hire, what are they looking for? They are probably looking for someone who will be dedicated, loyal and a valuable contributor to their team. People with disabilities can be all of those things and more, but they’re not always given the opportunity to show just how invaluable they can be. We sat down with Nancy Liebhart and Karrie Zubke, Document Control Associates at AbleLight to gain the perspective of an employer of people with disabilities.

Q. Describe the people that work for you and your department.

Nancy: We have 11 people that work for us, seven of them are people with disabilities, three retirees and then some part-time workers. We are a great big family. Really everyone helps everyone else and we all get along great.

Karrie: Our employees prepare documents for the scanning process.  We have workers that are in wheelchair’s, a gentleman who is blind, and others with various physical and cognitive disabilities. We don’t see them for their disabilities, just that they are able to complete their tasks and are great employees. We are the “fun” department! People can have headphones to listen to music. We tried playing it for everyone, but they all have a different opinion of what to listen to so now we listen to individual music. We have a lot of fun, dancing, singing. Well I don’t dance but Nancy does.

Q. When looking for a person to fill this job, what kind of qualities are you looking for?

Nancy: We look for focus. They need to be able to get a good amount of work done. We also look for personalities that will fit in our work/family environment.

People with disabilities can do so much, if given the chance!

Karrie Zubke, AbleLight

Q. Describe an instance of one of your employees going above and beyond.

Nancy: Well we have an employee, Daniel, who’s blind but is just really something. He has really gone above and beyond with his abilities. He came in to do file sorting and said, “This is easy” and has just gone and done so much. We actually sent him on a file sorting project to one of our facilities in California. He got to fly on a plane for the first time! He will be helping the employees there sort through their files and decide what to keep and send to us in Watertown to be scanned and documented and what can be tossed.

Q. As an employer, have you had to make any kind of accommodations for your employees?

Karrie: We just set up their work stations a little differently. Most accommodations are simple and easy. You don’t see them as people with disabilities, just differently abled. You see them as a regular person. The slight modifications to each of their work stations was very easy to do.

Q. What kind of advice would you have for another employer that is thinking about hiring a person with a disability?

Nancy: I would tell them to give people with a disability a shot. They are usually harder workers, more dedicated to the job. They are really proud of their work and want to prove themselves.

Karrie: The people that would work for them are just happy to get a chance, happy someone gave them a shot. Most tasks can be broken down so they can do them. Sometimes they may have a job coach to come in and help them a few days a week, but that support dwindles as they feel more and more confident about what they are doing.

Q. Do you have any closing remarks?

Nancy: The employees that we hire are more than capable of completing the jobs we give them. It really is easy to look past their disability and just see an employee. They prove themselves over and over with their work ethic and we have become a family in the mail distribution center. If anyone is debating about hiring a person with a disability, we would say don’t hesitate, you won’t be sorry.