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Great Falls hosts Disability Employment Awareness Conference

Great Falls hosts Disability Employment Awareness Conference
Posted at 5:15 PM, May 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-15 11:49:18-04

GREAT FALLS — The Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services' Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services (VRBS) is holding a conference at the Great Falls College that highlights the importance of having a workforce that includes people with disabilities.

“Today we are kicking off our second annual Disability Employment Conference,” said Chanda Hermanson, Administrator of disability employment and transition division for the Montana DPHHS, “It's our conference to support Montana's workforce, to support hiring people with disabilities.”

The first Disability Employment Conference happened in Butte last year and was a huge success, causing registrations to double this year. To the Montana DPHHS, disability employment refers to anybody with barriers to employment related to a diagnosis.

“There's an untapped labor force of people with disabilities that are ready to go to work,” Hermanson said, “And they need the opportunity to contribute to society.”

The term disability carries a negative connotation, but that is not always the case. Hermanson explains that people with disabilities can bring a unique experience and perspective to the workforce and are often more loyal to their employers than others.

“Studies show that when a company has a more diverse workforce, including hiring people with disabilities, the bottom line and the outcomes are higher than businesses that don't do that,” Hermanson said.

The conference will be taking place through Thursday with discussions ranging from A.I. aid in the workplace to changes in labor laws and will include a presentation from the Harkin Institute.

More information on the conference and the Vocational Rehabilitation and Blind Services can be found here.