National campaign promotes hiring folks with disabilities


The organization Health & Disability Advocates is spearheading a collaborative of 30 states, which will launch a national campaign promoting the hiring of people with disabilities. The $4 million effort began to appear on television, in print, on the web, and on billboards on 2/1 and runs through 2010.

The goal of the humorous, edgy campaign is to change attitudes about hiring people with disabilities, raising awareness of the need for diversity in the workplace, and countering stereotypes about people with disabilities.

Created by the Chicago-based Wirestone, “Think Beyond the Label” emphasizes that all workplaces accommodate difference — from the “copy-incapable” office worker to the “pattern-deficient” dresser to the man with “volume control syndrome” (i.e., the loud-mouthed employee). The campaign acknowledges that workforce diversity is an asset to small, medium, and large companies. Interested employers are encouraged to visit the campaign hub,, for information on hiring people with disabilities in their areas.

The campaign’s television ads feature Alana Wallace, a charismatic actress, dancer, and disability activist who uses a wheelchair as a result of childhood polio. Wallace, who founded her own dance company to encourage collaborations between artists with and without disabilities, is available for interviews.

“The ‘Think Beyond the Label’ campaign emphasizes the quirks and imperfections of our coworkers and makes the case that no worker is without flaws. The campaign demonstrates that these shortcomings don’t impact job performance or slow the company down,” says Barbara Otto, executive director of Health & Disability Advocates.

Otto notes that the timing of the campaign could not be better, because people with disabilities have been disproportionately affected by the recession, and their unemployment numbers are rising faster than those of the general public.