Giving Compass' Take:

• Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene report that states are implementing various initiatives across the country to give more people with disabilities employment opportunities.

• Which approach is the most effective with this population of people? How can philanthropists and outside donors collaborate with government entities to strengthen this effort?

• Read more about the low employment rates of individuals with disabilities in the United States. 

Only 36 percent of Americans with disabilities have a job. Governors want to increase that number, and many have started by making it easier for disabled people to get jobs in the public sector.

“We want private businesses to employ people with disabilities, and state government has to model that,” says Bambi Polotzola, executive director of the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Disability Affairs.

“Employers are concerned and unsure of the kinds of accommodations an employee needs,” says Polotzola. “They are concerned about asking questions they’re not supposed to ask, and because of those fears, they avoid the issue.”

But states across the country are trying to break down those barriers. Massachusetts has created an account to help agencies fund needed accommodations for disabled employees -- like technologies that help the hearing or visually impaired use computers or telephones.  Maryland adjusted its hiring system by adding five points to the test scores for job applicants with disabilities.

In Minnesota, the state similarly provides a pre-probationary job tryout for applicants with disabilities. It can last up to 700 hours, with pay and health benefits provided, and if the manager feels that the person has demonstrated proficiency, he or she is then moved into regular probationary status.

But for a program like Minnesota’s to work, it’s important to focus not just on hiring but also on retaining employees with disabilities.

Public-sector efforts to increase the diversity of the workforce are not just altruistic. In April, the national unemployment rate dipped to 3.9 percent. The workforce is aging. Young people appear to be shying away from government jobs.

Read the full article about jobs for people with disabilities by Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene at Governing Magazine.