8 Pennsylvania businesses that hire adults with IDD

8 Pennsylvania businesses that hire adults with IDD

Photo courtesy of Maryland GovPics via Flickr/CC BY 2.0.

By Kalena Thomhave

May 28, 2024

These Pennsylvania businesses strive for disability inclusion.

Regular work can be a source of empowerment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), such as autism and Down syndrome. But even though having a job can help improve their quality of life, stigma can often make it difficult for such individuals to find employment. The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is roughly double that of people without disabilities.

Moreover, when work is available for people with disabilities, it is sometimes tedious or low-paid. In Pennsylvania, people with disabilities can legally be paid less than the minimum wage.

Yet there are many businesses and companies throughout the commonwealth that have made it a priority to bring people with IDD onto their teams. Whether these businesses are local coffee shops or much larger companies, they’ve put in the work to make sure that people with disabilities can shine on the job.

Bitty and Beau’s Coffee – Pittsburgh and Bethlehem

Bitty and Beau’s Coffee is a national coffee chain that describes itself as a “human rights campaign disguised as a coffee shop.” The brainchild of parents of four kids — one with autism and two with Down syndrome — the coffee shop employs people with IDD. The model grants more than 400 employees opportunities for meaningful work while giving neurotypical people (people with brain functioning considered typical) opportunities to engage with people with IDD.

The shop has 20 locations in 11 states and the District of Columbia, including shops in Bethlehem and Pittsburgh.

Cosmic Café and Ciderhouse – Philadelphia

Located on Boathouse Row, Cosmic Café and Ciderhouse is a casual Philly restaurant on the shores of the Schuylkill River. Cosmic has a wide menu of locally sourced food, regular live music, and a commitment to social justice that is reflected in its hiring practices.

A majority of Cosmic’s staff are people with special needs, including workers with autism or cerebral palsy. Employees with IDD usually start out washing dishes or sweeping floors and over time can learn to wait tables and prepare food.

Giant Eagle – Western Pa.

Giant Eagle, the Greater Pittsburgh grocery store, hires many staffers with intellectual and developmental disabilities and has done so for decades. Even people with disabilities that limit their communication can thrive at work, especially if they have a job coach who can help them adjust to their new role. Plus, the grocery store chain schools all its employees about disability inclusion. At Giant Eagle, the grocery bagger position is a popular one for people with disabilities.

Nour – Camp Hill

You can find Nour, a coffee shop and café, in Cumberland County’s Camp Hill, just across the river from Harrisburg. The coffee shop strives to be a community space inclusive of all, including people with disabilities. To that end, Nour hires and trains both neurodivergent and neurotypical workers to serve the shop’s coffee and food menu. Nour is named after the owners’ daughter, who has Down syndrome.

GET Café – Narberth

As coffee shops are community spaces, they are often great starting points for businesses modeling inclusivity. It’s not surprising, then, that when Montgomery County nonprofit GETIncluded, Inc. decided to open a business, it opened GET Café.

GETIncluded is focused on the disability community, and thus most of the workers the café employs to serve its locally sourced food and coffee are people with disabilities. They receive training and pay for their work and can use their experience to continue working at GET or to help them move into other food service jobs.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – Philadelphia

As health professionals, the people at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia know that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities should not be denied the sense of accomplishment and improved well-being that often comes with paid work. As such, CHOP is a recognized leader in disability-inclusive hiring practices. In 2023, the National Organization on Disability named the nonprofit hospital a “Leading Disability Employer” for its commitment to hiring people with disabilities and ensuring they have accessible resources to help them succeed at work.

“As a disabled employee and Workforce Development Officer for our All Abilities Resource Group, I’ve seen many barriers that can prevent people with disabilities from excelling as employees,” Hannah Anderson, an instructor of pediatrics and medical education research at CHOP, said at the time of the award. “[W]e are working hard to eliminate barriers and build a more inclusive workforce that values people with disabilities.”

Vertex Inc. – King of Prussia

Vertex Inc. is a company that sells tax compliance software. While doing so, it makes a point to hire neurodivergent workers, such as people with autism. Vertex has worked with an organization called The Precisionists, which trains people with autism and other disabilities for jobs at local businesses. At Vertex, these jobs are often within tax processing or customer onboarding, not mere envelope stuffing.

Bunny Bakes – Pittsburgh

Located in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Bunny Bakes is a bakery and café that sells baked treats and coffee drinks in an accessible environment. The business employs neurodivergent workers to be bakers and baristas and pays them either at or above the minimum wage.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.8 Pennsylvania businesses that hire adults with IDD8 Pennsylvania businesses that hire adults with IDD


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