ICI's Jeffrey Nurick Educates About Employment of People with Disabilities

Tue Oct 18 2016
Jeffrey Nurick beside a poster for the 2016 National APSE conference in Cincinnati, where he spoke in June 2016.

"Society underestimates people with disabilities and their ability to work," says self-advocate Jeffrey Nurick. "If a job is customized to people's skills and abilities, people with even the most severe disabilities can be competitively employed."

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and as part of ICI's mission of inclusion, the Institute has long advocated competitive employment for people with disabilities. Nurick, a project specialist in the Research and Training Center on Community Living (RTC-CL),  has spent the past nine years, among other things, presenting, consulting on, and supporting RTC-CL's employment-related research and dissemination activities. He often speaks to organizational and state leadership, as well as guest lecturing at the University of Minnesota, about the Employment First movement and his experiences in the employment support system.

Much of his message boils down to awareness. "Most people with disabilities don't know their rights or the policies and legislation surrounding employment," he says. "Further, employment professionals often don't inform them of their rights because they don't know the policies either. It all comes down to education about policies, people's rights, and work incentives."

His commitment to spreading awareness has taken Nurick into a number of roles. He has hosted a series of videos titled, Make Work a Part of the Plan,  released this year by the RTC-CL as part of its work with the Minnesota Department of Human Services. As a public speaker he's given numerous presentations on employment, including two recent presentations, "Making an Employment First Policy Work for You: An Advocate's Perspective" at the National APSE Conference and "What Employment First Means to Me" at the Minnesota Symposium on Applied Disability Studies. And he is a board member of the Minnesota Association for People Supporting Employment First (MN APSE). "Everyone is entitled to community-based employment," he concludes. "It's their choice."