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PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Department of Human Services (DHS) announced the Aug. 11 launch of its “Ability for Hire” campaign. The goal of the campaign is to promote the benefits of, as well as change public perceptions about, hiring people with disabilities.

The campaign starts Aug. 11 with the debut of the AbilityForHire.com website, to be followed by TV and radio outreach, informative videos, employer/employee testimonials, print materials and more.

“At its heart, Ability for Hire is about seeing the ability of a person instead of the disability – and all the possibilities that are opened by taking that step,” said DHS Secretary Gloria Pearson. “Employers in South Dakota are currently having a hard time meeting their staffing needs due to a low unemployment rate, and Ability for Hire will show them there is an untapped workforce waiting. It’s a win-win for businesses in South Dakota and the many qualified individuals with disabilities who want to work.”

Ability for Hire’s twofold aim of educating employers as well as the public is behind a unique aspect of the campaign. AbilityForHire.com provides opportunities at every turn for visitors to not only learn more about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities, but to “share the word” with bosses or friends via customized messages – all with the touch of a finger or click of a mouse.

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“The timing of the launch is excellent,” said Division of Rehabilitation Services Director Eric Weiss, whose division helped develop the campaign. “Not only are we just off the heels of the 25th anniversary of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act, but Gov. Dennis Daugaard issued a column Friday about the importance of being an ‘employment first state,’ which means making employment the first priority and preferred outcome for South Dakotans with disabilities. In addition, we partnered with the South Dakota Retailers Association to put on a webinar this morning to guide employers through the process of hiring people with disabilities.”

The intent of the Ability for Hire campaign is to show employers what businesses like Camille’s Sidewalk Café in Sioux Falls, Great Lakes Higher Education in Aberdeen and Avera regional hospitals, to name just a few, already know – hiring people with disabilities enriches and diversifies the workforce. As Gov. Daugaard recently said, “It’s good for business and good for taxpayers.”

The South Dakota Department of Human Services’ mission is to enhance the quality of life of people with disabilities, in partnership with its stakeholders, through the programs and services offered by its divisions. Learn more by visiting the department’s website, dhs.sd.gov, and viewing the DHS Strategic Plan.

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