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State works to step up employment for Nevadans with disabilities 

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Alex Gonzalez

(Nevada News Service) October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and one Nevada organization says about 70 percent of people with disabilities who would like to be employed - are not. Employers often assume they won't be able to accommodate a worker with a disability - but that is usually incorrect. 

Mary Evilsizer, executive director with the Southern Nevada Center for Independent Living, acknowledges there may be challenges in finding just the right job fit, but said employers are missing out on a special group of people when they don't make the effort.

"Hiring someone with a disability is going to be one of the greatest assets that a company can have," she said. "Loyalty, commitment to the company, willingness to learn: 'You treat me well - I will give you 110 percent.'"

Evilsizer added progress has been made, but more needs to be done to ensure inclusive workplaces. According to the Department of Labor, this year's theme for the Awareness Month is about advancing access and equity. The department recommends having companies review their policies to ensure they convey a commitment to an inclusive work environment. 

Evilsizer added the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation is partnering with the state's Department of Education to invest $10 million to improve transition services and outcomes for children and young people with disabilities, including employment. The grant is from the U.S. Department of Education. 

Evilsizer said it will be used to create the "Nevada Transitions Roadmap through Innovative Partnerships" project, or Nevada TRIP for short. 

"The outcome of this project, I think, is a dream come true for us, because it's going to weave into the curriculum of public education, independent living knowledge for students with disabilities. Start training them on their rights, on their resources," she explained. 

She added the project will help streamline a process to ensure both kids and parents know what they can be doing to help improve their chances of securing employment later in life.