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Disability Action Center NW

"AbilityLinks Website Launch: July, 2001"- Ten Years Later…

Victoria Pierce, Daily Herald Staff Writer, Posted On July 13, 2001
Wade Lederman isn’t going to let his wheelchair get in the way of a new career in the computer industry. On Thursday he got a boost from Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital’s new tool, www.abilitylinks.org, when he became the first person to post a resume on the site. AbilityLinks is designed to connect people with disabilities with employers who are hiring.

Lederman used to paint and hang wallpaper, but a diving accident put an end to his business 10 years ago.

“After two years of feeling sorry for myself I decided to see what I could do,” said Lederman, a former West Chicago resident who now lives in the DuPage County Convalescent Center. He recently completed his associate’s degree and is hoping to start a new career in the hot field of information technology.

“Individuals with disabilities want to work. They are talented and very productive people,” said Tim Moen, chairman of the Marianjoy board of directors and co-chair of the committee that launched the new Web site. But companies often have misconceptions about what their responsibilities will be if they hire a disabled person, Moen said. The Web site will work to dispel some of those fears with information for companies as well as job seekers.

More than 200 people, including many representing large and small companies in the western suburbs attended the launch party in Wheaton on Thursday. Some of the initial corporate supporters include Bank One, Tellabs and Lucent Technologies.

Enesco Group Inc. in Itasca and DrVry Institute of Technology in Addison already have posted openings on the site.
Initially, the focus will be on the western suburbs, but Marianjoy hopes it will expand and the model can be adopted in other areas as well.

“It has a lot of potential. I hope there’s a lot of content and lots of jobs are posted,” said Mary Kozy, information referral coordinator for the DuPage Center for Independent Living. Annually about 1,600 people call the Center for Independent Living seeking information about services and jobs for the disabled, Kozy said. “I’m glad to have this tool in my pocket,” she said.

Jim Decker, scholarship coordinator for Marianjoy, said he’s especially happy to see the Web site up and running. The disabled high school and college students he works with are determined to finish school. But in the back of their minds some wonder if anyone will hire them after graduation, he said. The Web site offers proof that there are employers out there who will look beyond a wheelchair or cane and hire people for their abilities. “This is a long time in coming,” Decker said.

Join the AbilityLinks Consortium – Basic Membership Is Free

The AbilityLinks mission is to increase employment of qualified persons with disabilities. Non profits, businesses and government agencies join the AbilityLinks Consortium to demonstrate support for this mission and gain access to disability employment networking opportunities.

A program of Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital, AbilityLinks is supported by sponsorships, premium memberships, grants and donations to the Marianjoy