WeCo Supports Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by Hiring People with Disabilities as Their Primary Employees

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As a website accessibility testing service company, WeCo hires people with disabilities because they have a unique perspective on accessibility and the Web. By employing people with sight-, hearing-, motor skill-, and cognitive-related disabilities, WeCo demonstrates the value, and continued importance, of Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

WeCo staff at the 2013 WeCERT Conference

WeCo Staff is Comprised of Individuals With Disabilities

WeCo serves as a model of how Section 503 requirements can be successfully applied.

As part of its mission to “foster accessibility, awareness and independence for all people,” WeCo looks to hire individuals living with disabilities to be its Certified Test Consultants (CTCs). These user experience testers use their unique expertise to assess the accessibility of websites and electronic documents. WeCo works to support the rights of people with disabilities by increasing the awareness of challenges to their employment, as well as the need for accessibility on the Internet and in the workplace.

Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires any employer with federal contracts of $10,000 or more to take affirmative action to hire and retain qualified people with disabilities, and to document that their recruitment efforts are in line with these goals.

Regardless of efforts being made to improve the effectiveness of Section 503—the ultimate goal of which is to give more disabled people the opportunity to work—there is still much to be done. According to government figures, only 31.6% of working age people with disabilities participated in the workforce in 2012, compared with 76.5% of those without such disabilities. Also, the unemployment rate for working age people with disabilities in 2012 was 15% compared with 8% for everyone else.

The recent amendments to Section 503 are an important step in improving the above statistics. However, they only affect recruitment practices at the federal level. To provide widespread and lasting change, employers of all types and sizes must be willing to reach out to those people living with disabilities. WeCo serves as a model of how Section 503 requirements can be successfully applied, regardless of a company’s size or budget.

People with disabilities often prove their worth through hard work and dedication because they successfully face challenges every day. If given the chance, they can be valuable additions to any organization.

Based in St. Paul, Minnesota, WeCo is a mission-based, for-profit organization. While creating a strong accessibility learning environment for your organization, we also provide professional employment to people who live with disabilities. Considering that up to 80% of people in this group are either unemployed or employed below their education and capability levels makes the work WeCo does even more uplifting and important. WeCo is recognized by the State of Minnesota as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise. In WeCo’s first year in business they were featured in the MarketWatch Wall Street Journal, Google Finance and Tech{dot}MN. Find more about the company at theweco.com.

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Toni Grundstrom
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