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Workforce Diversity Includes Disability

If you've ever seen a poster or brochure about topics such as child safety seats or drunk driving prevention, you might already be familiar with Kenny Allen's work.  A graphic designer in Washington, D.C., Kenny is part of a prolific team that produces publications, websites and other materials to promote road safety.

Kenny works for a Federal contractor to the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  His employer — a minority-owned business that graduated from the Small Business Administration's 8a Business Development Program for small, disadvantaged businesses — is expressly committed to diversity in its workforce, and Kenny is one reflection of this core value.

Although often thought of in terms of race or ethnicity, diversity actually encompasses a wide range of individual differences, including disability.  This intersection is the premise behind Add Us In, a U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) initiative that aims to assist small businesses — including the rapidly increasing number of those owned by diverse individuals — to employ people with disabilities.

Kenny, who has osteogenesis imperfecta and uses crutches to walk, didn't originally envision a career in graphic arts, although he did enjoy drawing as a child.  After earning a degree in business, he first worked in database design.  He later “lucked” into a position in graphics, and it ended up offering a good way to mesh his technical and creative interests, he says.  Ever since, it's been his employers who have gotten lucky — with a skilled, dedicated employee who adds to the diverse range of viewpoints they need to succeed.

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