Vicki Kerkvliet, the Executive Director of the Business Resource Network (BRN), recently spoke to Sioux Falls Up & Coming about her role in helping people with disabilities find employment in Sioux Falls. BRN was designed to provide businesses with educational opportunities regarding the employment of persons with disabilities, to create a greater awareness of the benefits of hiring persons with disabilities within the community, and to act as a resource for both prospective employees and employers regarding employment opportunities and worksite modifications.
Here are just a few of the things we learned about BRN from Vicki:
Can you expand on your statement of employers' tendency to focus on disability vs. ability and the message you'd like to communicate to employers?
Some employers tend to focus more on the disability a job seeker has rather than their ability to perform the job. People with disabilities have skills just like everyone else. They just need to be given a chance. As I talk to employers that employ people with disabilities, they tell me how loyal, positive, and hard-working people with disabilities really are!
What are some of the financial benefits of employing individuals with disabilities and maybe some misconceptions about costs of accommodation?
There are tax incentives available to businesses that hire people with disabilities such as: Work Opportunity Tax Credit (up to $2,400/year), Small Business Tax Credit (up to $5,000/year) and The Architectural/Transportation Tax Deduction (up to $15,000/year). Some people think that creating special accommodations for people with disabilities is expensive. However, most accommodations cost less than $500 and in many cases, nothing at all. Many people with disabilities do not even need special equipment or accommodations.
Who is representative of a local champion and where can we nominate local businesses?
Camille’s Sidewalk Café is one of the businesses in Sioux Falls that has received a Disability Friendly Recognition Program Award from Business Resource Network for employing people with disabilities. Jennifer Erickson, owner, states, “Why WOULDN’T you hire someone with a disability? They do the job just as well as anyone else, and they do it with pride and a positive attitude. There are really no obstacles to hiring someone with a disability. As long as I’m part of this business, we’re going to make that commitment. They’re great workers!”
Where can local businesses list jobs?
If businesses have positions they need filled, they can contact me, Vicki Kerkvliet, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (605) 215-1760. I will then share the information with job providers in our community who assist people with disabilities with job placement.
Vicki Kerkvliet has a B.A. in religion with a minor in psychology from Augustana University. She has worked in the field of disabilities for 24 years. Vicki was born with the disease Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI) and uses a wheelchair for mobility. She currently serves on the Sioux Empire United Way’s Disability Impact Team and the South Dakota Statewide Independent Living Council. She is also a Peer Visitor for Independent Living Choices. Vicki was Ms. Wheelchair South Dakota in 1998. She also received the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Employee with a Disability in 2000.