The Disability Awareness Resource Team of West Michigan (DART) hosted a disability resource fair on Tuesday, June 27 at the West Michigan Works Grand Rapids NW Service Center. Attendees engaged with DART partners, networked with employers and learned about community resources that support employment.

The resource fair included presentations by Michigan Rehabilitation Services, Disability Advocates of Kent County, West Michigan Works!, Volunteers of America, the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons, Veterans Affairs, Retention Solutions Network, Tri-Share (Vibrant Futures), AVBI (Mary Free Bed Rehab), The Source, Wheels 2 Work, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services and Hope Network.

“Businesses who need help to retain employees that have a variety of needs are encouraged to attend,” said Sharlene Organ, Business Relations Consultant, Michigan Rehabilitation Services. “This group is designed to educate, provide resources, and assist businesses in the West Michigan community to hire and retain a diverse staff, including people with disabilities.”

The resource fair demonstrated how to assist employees in completing tasks effectively and showcased organizations that can provide onsite assistance to employees. Businesses will learn about funding sources for talent recruitment, resources for transportation needs, tax credits, accessibility and daycare concerns.

“West Michigan Works! is proud to support the fostering inclusive workforces by hosting pivotal events like the disability resource fair,” said Angie Barksdale, COO, West Michigan Works!. “Our aim is not only to connect community partners but to be a catalyst for change, promoting education, and awareness in businesses and the wider West Michigan community about the potential and capabilities of people with disabilities.”

Businesses that attended the resource fair will also gain access to a DART hiring event in October.

Established in 2019, DART actively works to increase awareness about people with disabilities. DART comprises Michigan Rehabilitation Services, West Michigan Works!, Department of Veteran Affairs, Disability Advocates of Kent County, Volunteers of America Michigan and Bureau of Service for Blind Persons.

DART’s dedication to diversity, accessibility, equity, and inclusion in the workplace has a proven track record. In a recent hybrid event held in April, DART facilitated an open dialogue between persons with disabilities and over 25 businesses, providing a platform for individuals to share their experiences and businesses to gain invaluable insights.