Bridging the Gap Between People With Disabilities and Finding Real Jobs

Allow me to introduce myself, I am Timothy Blonsky, Danielle Ralston’s little brother. I live in the state of Connecticut, just south of the capital city of Hartford. My career for the last 14 years has been in the service of others. In the human service field, I have a number of success stories. My career in Human service started in the residential side of it in terms of working in group homes, helping people with disabilities with life skills, and general mental and physical care. As my career evolved, I had come to a realization that the best way to help disadvantaged, and disabled individuals, is by helping them seek and sustain employment. You see, when one gets a job, then they also get a voice. The saying goes “money makes the world go ‘round.” When a person with disabilities finally finds a sense of purpose and earns real wages, they then feel part of something greater than themselves. Most people with disabilities live in a cocoon where they only associate with others who have similar disabilities. When they earn real wages in a real job, they have the chance to gain non-disabled peers.

Before I go on, I should explain a little about this industry and where it came from. Since the 1930s, the federal government made it legal to allow people with disabilities work in conclaves or work-shops where they would do simple tasks like put together small items for various companies and earn sub minimum wages. This was done, so people with disabilities could have something to do during the work-day and be productive because real work wasn’t a possibility for them. About 20 years ago, that changed. Just this last year, President Obama signed a law stating that sub minimum wages is illegal. Many viewed this as modern day slavery for a sub culture that is ready, able and wiling to work real jobs.

One of the federal and state mandates in this field is that provider agencies like I worked for, finds “competitive employment” meaning real jobs, not just those whom bag groceries at your local market. Real jobs, like the individual I helped find a paralegal position in a law firm for an insurance company in Hartford. Or the deaf individual who works in life insurance division for Aetna world headquarters. I also worked with a young man who is a main employee of the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles where he makes a salary of around $40,000 per year.

The US Department of Labor states that persons with disabilities are unemployed at the rate of 19.6%, while the non-disabled is 5.9%. More work needs to be done. The best way it can be done, is by more people realizing the ability, motivation and many other positive reasons why you, and whomever you work for, hires people with disabilities.

Timothy J Blonsky was born in Dansville, New York. He was born deaf due to a hereditary condition. Tim attended public schools and integrated himself in the hearing world while maintaining fluency in American Sign Language. Tim has worked in the Human Service field for the last 14 years helped deaf and hearing people in skill building and seeking and sustaining employment. Recently, Tim has been working on his Start up, CEESpeak, which uses Google Glass to instantly translate spoken words into text via display in the glasses. Tim resides in Marlborough, Connecticut with his significant other, Stephanie, his daughter Marissa and his Fox Red Lab puppy, Charlie. He can be contacted at [email protected]