WorkingNation, Ares Charitable Foundation, WABE to Examine Employing People with Disabilities on ‘Breaking Barriers: Embracing Disabilities in the Workforce,’ Airing Oct. 23
LOS ANGELES, October 19, 2023 — WorkingNation, in partnership with the PBS station WABE in Atlanta, will present “Breaking Barriers: Embracing Disabilities in the Workforce,” a TV special highlighting workers with disabilities, how technology and an evolving workplace can help them overcome obstacles, and how employers can tap this underutilized talent pool to diversify their workforces while addressing worker shortages. The special was made possible through funding provided by the Ares Charitable Foundation (the “Ares Foundation”).
The hour-long special will air on WABE October 23 at 9 p.m. ET and November 18 at 6 p.m. ET, and also on WorkingNation.org.
The number of people with disabilities in the workforce is increasing, but they remain employed at rates far lower than the general population. The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is more than double the rate for people without, according to Department of Labor data. The CDC estimates 61 million U.S. adults live with a disability.
“WorkingNation remains committed to envisioning a future of work where all worker populations have an equal opportunity to contribute,” says Art Bilger, founder and CEO of WorkingNation. “Just like everyone else, our disabled neighbors with requisite skills and experience deserve access to meaningful work, which can bring stability, pride and a sense of purpose to life. And thanks to new technologies and programs, that’s increasingly possible.”
Michelle Armstrong, head of philanthropy at Ares Management Corporation and executive director of the Ares Charitable Foundation, adds: “The Ares Foundation strives to accelerate economic equity and helping people successfully enter careers is critical to make that goal a reality. We believe this special will help raise awareness about the underrepresentation of people with disabilities in the workforce and hopefully inspire action that creates greater employment opportunities for them.”
WABE’s initial broadcast is in October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which celebrates contributions of workers with disabilities and focuses on making workplaces accessible and inclusive.
“Disability inclusion and accessibility are key parts of the workplace equity conversation,” says Jennifer Dorian, president and CEO of WABE in Atlanta. “We are pleased to partner with WorkingNation, which has done extensive reporting about the rapidly evolving present and future of work confronting all workers and employers.”
The WABE broadcast will center on conversations produced by WorkingNation and moderated by the veteran journalist Hari Sreenivasan.
The first will look at accessibility and the impacts of technology. It will feature:
- Taryn Mackenzie Williams, U.S. assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy,
- Hiren Shukla, global head of the Neuro-Diverse Center of Excellence at EY, and 
- Matt Ater, vice president of business development for Vispero, which provides assistive technology for the visually impaired. Ater is blind.
- Heather Dicks of Georgia Tech’s EXCEL program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities,
- Katie Hearn, who continued working for the Atlanta Braves despite losing her eyesight,
- Beth Keeton, executive director at Griffin-Hammis Associates, focused on alternate paths to the workforce for people with disabilities, and
- Ilond Zombil Tshipau, vice president at the Bobby Dodd Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering people with differing abilities.
WorkingNation is a nonprofit media organization telling stories about the future of work and solutions to the jobs skills gap disrupting our economy. It blossomed from the realization that the nation’s workers are on a collision course with technology and a changing global landscape. WorkingNation emphasizes that lifelong learning and adaptable skill sets are the cornerstones of sustainable careers, and educates employers about underutilized talent that can be trained to tackle labor shortages. Follow us on YouTube, X, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Threads.
About Ares Charitable Foundation
The Ares Charitable Foundation (the “Ares Foundation”) is a 501(c)(3) qualifying organization sponsored by Ares Management Corporation (“Ares”), a leading global alternative investment manager. Established in 2020, the Ares Foundation seeks to accelerate equality of economic opportunity through grants to nonprofit organizations whose programming provides career preparation and reskilling, encourages entrepreneurship and deepens individuals’ understanding of personal finance. The Ares Foundation’s vision – a world in which people benefit from equitable access to knowledge, resources and opportunities so that they can achieve their full potential – reflects Ares’ core values and staunch commitment to philanthropy.
WABE is Atlanta’s original, independent, non-profit source for news and local stories and the choice for NPR and PBS. Our stations deliver fact-based journalism and inclusive, engaging, cultural content that informs, inspires, reflects, and empowers the millions who call the Greater Atlanta area home. Go to www.wabe.org for additional information.