In the News

Being Disabled Doesn’t Mean Being Unable to Work

The following is an article from The Atlanta Journal Consitution, recognizing GCDD as an organization that helps people with disabiliites find meaningful employment.

The Atlanta Journal Consitution, 5/25/13, Click here to read online.

Being Disabled Doesn’t Mean Being Unable to Work
The Atlanta Journal Consitution
By Karen Huppertz

My first letter to the editor was back about ten years ago in response to a new southern resident who had felt compelled to tersely complain to the AJC after visiting a local grocery store. This fresh to town neighbor was outraged to find someone standing at the end of the register placing her groceries in bags. She was further incensed when the employee offered to take those bags to her car.

It didn't help that the author of this vile letter insinuated the store's service was some sort of backwoods southern tradition serving only to offend her more superior ways.

My daddy had a name for folks moving south and complaining like this, but that's not the point.

I quickly, and probably emotionally, drafted a response attempting to illuminate this uprooted soul to the fact our local store was often providing valuable jobs to individuals with physical or developmental disabilities.

I was recently reminded of this long ago editorial letter exchange when watching a woman's discomfort while being assisted by a visually impaired man at a nearby retailor.

People with disabilities want to work.

It's against federal law for employers to discriminate against individuals due to any type of disability. However, these laws don't demand companies actively seek to hire the handicapped.

Organizations like the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities,, exist to help those with deficits find meaningful employment through additional training and by building relationships with business leaders.

According to the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency,, many large corporations actively provide competitive employment for persons with disabilities throughout our state.

Equally encouraging, numerous local mom and pop organizations in Gwinnett also reach out to help those with disabilities become productive and independent citizens.

I've gotten to know the young man at my local Publix who helps bag my groceries. He's hard working and always eager to help, even on the coldest and rainiest of days. I know he rides the bus to work and, despite his halted step, retrieves the carts from the parking lot without being reminded. I'm not sure how his physical disabilities are defined, but despite them he always has a smile on his face when he says hello and goes out of his way to do so.

Kudos to companies stepping out to include people with physical and developmental disabilities in the workforce. And applause for those who support all kinds of diversity in our community. My daddy would call them neighbors.

Karen Huppertz has lived in Gwinnett County for 14 years. Reach her on facebook or at .