May 1, 2019 | Sonalika Mehta
Persons with intellectual challenges comprise an underutilized population of potential employees. All too often, we find that persons with challenges remain outside the workforce; forced outside the usual rhythm of life.
As we discuss the employment opportunities for people with challenges, it is important to be aware of who are the intellectually challenged? People are considered to be intellectually challenged if they meet all three of the following criteria:
It is estimated that over 20 million people in India are suffering from some kind of challenge which equals to 2.1% of the population that was identified by the Census. Based on the above criteria, such individuals may be a bit slower than average at learning information and acquiring skills, most are capable of holding a wide variety of jobs in the community. As a result of improved educational and vocational opportunities, many of today’s young adults with intellectual challenges are hitting the job market with better preparation. Yet 9 out of 10 adults with intellectual disabilities are unemployed.
Employers assume the drawbacks that they might face by employing someone with challenges. However, the flipside to the argument is that these days, many organizations are discovering that persons with intellectual challenges are employable. In our society, disability is regarded as a form of abnormality and all the faculties of the person are questioned. People need to be educated that most often a person with a given challenge can perform many functions quite efficiently, and could be productive if placed in an appropriate job with some support from the organization. An ethical argument can be made in favour of hiring persons with such challenges, but what employers really want to know is whether it’s profitable for them to hire people with challenges. The Chicago Tribune has reported that companies hiring people with intellectual and other challenges aren’t doing it as an act of charity, but because the people they are hiring are good employees who help the company make money. With careful matches and (usually) minor accommodations in the workplace, persons with challenges can easily be integrated into the regular workforce. People with intellectual challenges are employed as office assistants, medical technicians, textile machine tenders, furniture refinishers, sales clerks, cashiers, building maintenance workers, messengers, cooks etc.
But beyond this kind of social support, what individuals with intellectual challenges need most is the chance to prove their worth. Many persons without these challenges are overwhelmed by the high expectations that their family and friends have of them. Persons with disabilities suffer from the low level of expectation placed on them; they’re not given a fair chance because people don’t expect enough of them. Each individual has a contribution to make to this world and can do so, only if given an opportunity.
About the author
The Author of this article is Sonalika Mehta. Sonalika is in class XI and identifies herself as someone with a kind heart but strong grit. She has worked as a volunteer with the Amrit Foundation of India.