JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Governor Bill Lee (R-Tenn.) paid a visit to Northeast Tennessee Thursday to meet with members of the disability community.
Lee’s first stop was at Core Services of Northeast Tennessee. The Governor was able to meet with several people with disabilities that receive assistance from the organization and praised the work that the employees have been doing.
According to a release from the Governor’s Office, the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and TennCare have been working with Core Services in the area to use technology to help improve the lives of people living with disabilities by having to rely less on “paid supports.”
One example of technology that is helping people with disabilities move into a position where they can find employment is the use of virtual reality. Virtual reality has been used to provide Tennessee residents with disabilities pre-employment services throughout the pandemic.
Lee says that technology is continuing to be key in improving the lives of those who are living with disabilities.
“We’re seeing an uptick and increase in those employment opportunities, which is so important,” Lee said. “Not just for the people that are given an opportunity to work, but for those around which they will be working. We know that Tennesseeans with disabilities uniquely impact in a positive way the workforce when they engage in it.”
His next stop was at East Tennessee State University where Tenneessee’s Employment First Task Force unveiled their 2021 “Expect Employment” report. The task force helps people living with disabilities find and prepare for employment.
“People of all abilities are needed in our workforce as we continue to see our economy grow,” Lee said. “I’m proud of the work our state agencies and private partners are doing to prepare people with disabilities for employment and engage businesses across the state.”
The Employment First Task Force has set a goal to reduce unemployment between those with disabilities and those without by five percent by 2023. So far, the gap has been reduced by 1.7 percent.
Progress has also been made with the creation of the Tenessee Believes Program, which increases access to inclusive higher education opportunities at schools across the state.