Las Vegas man out to end stigma about workers with disabilities - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

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Las Vegas man out to end stigma about workers with disabilities

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Havander Davis is out to change attitudes about hiring workers with disabilities. (Elizabeth Watts/FOX5) Havander Davis is out to change attitudes about hiring workers with disabilities. (Elizabeth Watts/FOX5)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

Unemployment numbers have been steadily improving in recent months, but there's one community that's still underserved: the disabled.

Some studies have shown they're more productive than other workers. FOX5 met with a local man who's out to erase the stigma attached to disabled workers.

Havander Davis works at Nevada PEP, a nonprofit dedicated to providing information, services and training to families of children with disabilities

Davis is a wealth of information. He's legally blind, having been born with a disease called retinitis pigmentosa (RP).

"It slowly takes out your side vision and makes your peripheral vision very blurry. So I only see shadows," Davis explained.

Despite his challenges growing up, the Las Vegas native graduated from Durango High School, entered the workforce and moved into his own place.

Davis credits the Nevada Bureau of Services to the Blind with helping him to become independent.

"I wash my own clothes. I cook. My mother stays around the corner, though," he said.

Nevada PEP helps parents become advocates for children with disabilities. Davis started there as a volunteer, but after demonstrating a remarkable work ethic, they hired him as a part-time communications specialist.

"I honestly forget that he's visually impaired. I give him things to do, and he just does them. It's amazing," said Stephanie Vrsnick with Nevada PEP.

Davis hosts workshops for families of people with disabilities to help them make the transition from high school to work or college. His daily duties at Nevada PEP include working the front desk, where he uses assistive technology, including the screen reader Windows-Eyes.

Davis also has PenReader, a program which enables handwriting to be stored as data, and a scanner that reads documents aloud.

"It's just trial and error – getting out there, using the machine, learning how to do it," Davis said.

Davis learned how to use the technology with the assistance of the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR).

DETR helps those with disabilities obtain and keep jobs. It also provides employers with assistance.

DETR rehabilitation supervisor Kim Cantiero said companies such as OfficeMax and Walgreens have been great employers. Walgreens even did research on workers with disabilities in its distribution center, which uncovered promising statistics in regards to on-the-job accidents and workers compensation costs.

Davis said being blind doesn't hold him back, he just relies on the new technology DETR provides.

As he gets ready to celebrate his two-year anniversary at work, he hopes his story will inspire employers to take chances they won't regret.

"Give a person with a disability a chance, and I promise you they're going to show you how good they can be," Davis said.

DETR last year helped more than 850 clients with disabilities find jobs. They have many more clients who are ready to begin work and hope employers will consider them.

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