Employee disability awareness month shines light on skills of those with special needs

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- October is disability workplace awareness month. Right now, there are thousands of Hoosiers with disabilities who work in many different fields, but many say our state still has a long way to go.

Four days a week, strolling down the hallways of Community Health North, it’s likely you’ll see a smiling face that stands out.

Katie Cortelyou has worked at the hospital for nearly 15 years. She’s the highlight of the day for patients and even nurses on the floor where she works.

"Talk to the patients. I’ve been a patient, too and I know how it feels," Cortelyou said.

Her job responsibilities include making sure rooms are stocked with supplies for nurses and doctors.

"She definitely helps us out big time, passing out waters and keeping things stocked in our units," said nurse Sarah Vanzile.

Cortelyou always knew she wanted to work in a hospital, but knew she wouldn’t be able to be a nurse.

"She has that giving and kind heart and wants to make sure everyone is okay," said Kristy Stewart, an employment consultant with Noble.

Cortelyou's wish is that more people with her same abilities would be able to be employed in Indiana.

"Gives them a chance at accomplishment and also for them to be independent and strong," she said.

Nationwide, about 21 percent of people in the workforce are disabled. In Indiana, that number is at about 34 percent. Noble of Indiana helps people with disabilities find jobs.

"We serve about 300 or so folks with disabilities annually, either placing or supporting them in a longer term on their jobs," Stewart explained. "All of our services are person-centered, so we tailor the job we are looking for to the individual."

At Community Health North, Katie’s job was created especially for her 15 years ago. She’s hoping to continue to pave the way for people to have the same shot at work.

"All I want to do for the rest of my life is to make a difference and make a change for people with all types of disabilities," she said.

For more information on hiring someone who is disabled and Noble, click here.