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Offers Answers to Chicago Businesses’ Questions about Workplace Disability Inclusion

Amanda Fowler
By Amanda Fowler

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ADA25 Chicago, in collaboration with the Chicago Business Leaders Network (CBLN), launched the first annual Disability Inclusion Opportunity Summit on November 16, 2015.

The event was geared towards civic, business, and nonprofit organization leaders to examine successes and opportunities in implementation of the historic law—in short, how to make the environment and opportunities more accessible for people with disabilities.

The programming for Day Two of the Summit entitled “Best Practices and Strategies for Recruiting, Employing & Retaining People with Disabilities,” focused on employment for people with disabilities. The sold-out event hosted over 200 people and over 71 companies from the Chicago area. Topics ranged from accessible hiring practices, to creating an inclusive workplace culture, to legal implications, and more.

AbilityLinks booth
AbilityLinks Booth at ADA 25 Chicago CBLN Event

AbilityLinks, the award-winning job-opportunity network created in 2001 to promote the hiring of people with disabilities, played a major role in the day’s activities. Not only did they host an informational booth, explaining the service to businesses and job-seekers throughout the day, but they also participated on many panels.

Ken Skord, Program Director of AbilityLinks, spoke about talent recruiting several times throughout the day on a repeating panel, “Closing the Employment Gap: Looking in All the Right Places,” discussing how AbilityLinks is the major online hub for skilled job-seekers with disabilities and companies looking to hire them, nationwide, but especially in the Midwest.

Amanda Fowler, Marketing & PR Specialist for Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital, where AbilityLinks is housed, spoke on the luncheon plenary panel, “The Job-Seeker’s Perspective,” about her employment through and work with AbilityLinks, as well as advice based on her experience of inclusion at Marianjoy.

 “The purpose of ADA25 Chicago is to examine the legacy of ADA, as well as to bridge the gap between its conception and implementation for including people with disabilities in our workplace and communities,” said Skord. “This Disability Inclusion Opportunity Summit offers a chance for Chicago businesses to gather and strategize annually how we can best do that. As a resource for both job-seekers with disabilities and inclusive employers, AbilityLinks has a key role in this vital process, and we look forward to making even more of an impact in the future, closing that employment gap once and for all.”

Every day, thousands of individuals join America’s fastest growing labor pool: Persons with Disabilities. Now in its fifteenth year, AbilityLinks, the free, nationwide program of Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital, works to match qualified individuals to employers who embrace diversity. The program has assisted hundreds of these individuals to find employment.

About Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital
Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital is a state-of-the-art facility with 127 beds for acute and subacute care. Marianjoy maintains an extensive network of inpatient, subacute, and outpatient sites, as well as physician clinics throughout the Chicagoland area.