May 2023

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Self-Employment Growing

Whether it's a side gig or opening a full-time business, the number of people who are self-employed continues to grow. For persons with disabilities, who are more likely to be self-employed than persons without a disability, entrepreneurship and self-employment is a viable path to economic self-sufficiency.

In case you missed it, we saw this entrepreneurial spirit during the recent Project Venture competition when High School High Tech (HSHT) teams from Bay, Orange and Union counties presented their ideas for a product or service to our second round judges. The top Project Venture award went to the Orange County West HSHT program and we were excited to see the team recognized by the School Board of Orange County as an innovative Exceptional Student Education program.

Union County's Project Venture team was also recognized at the April Union County School Board meeting for their outstanding 2nd-place finish in the 2023 competition.

We are proud of all Project Venture teams and the work they put into developing their business plans and presentations. We believe this program gives students an experience that will help them to become better prepared for the workforce. To see a few highlights from this great event, check out the Project Venture Recap video.

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Orange County Snapshot

While the number of Floridians with a disability who are employed continues to increase each year, there is room for improvement. There are currently 463,004 Floridians with a disability who are working, according to the latest data available, and the heat map below shows the number by county of Floridians with a disability who are working. The darker areas of the heat map illustrate where these numbers are greatest and the information below shows the number of employed and unemployed persons with disabilities in each county listed.

 In the Orlando region:

  • Orange County has 34,471 persons with disability who are employed while 4,370 are looking for jobs;
  • In Osceola County, 9,764 persons with disability are employed, and 1,570 are looking for jobs; and
  • Seminole County has 10,123 persons with disabilities who are employed, and 946 unemployed persons with disabilities.
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Strengthening Florida's Economy

According to the Florida Chamber of Commerce, for every 100 open jobs in Florida, there are 71 Floridians looking for work.

Jobseekers with disabilities are willing and eager to work, and they represent the ideal solution for this workforce shortage. In our role supporting the Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, The Able Trust is focused on helping expand disability employment and connecting employers to a high-quality hidden talent pool.

The workforce gap is important to keep in mind as we celebrate National Economic Development week. And as I travel to the Florida Economic Development Council (FEDC) conference, I look forward to meeting with other leaders who focus on the economic development of their communities and the state of Florida.

We will also have the opportunity to continue this talent discussion when we meet with leaders from chambers of commerce at the Florida Association of Chamber Professionals conference. We look forward to participating in a panel discussion on how to access hidden talent and help fill those open positions.

Our team has started planning for Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM), that takes place each October. We hope you will add DEAM to your calendar and include The Able Trust on the agenda for any October meetings you have scheduled. In addition, if you have a meeting or conference coming up that will focus on strengthening Florida's workforce, we would be glad to meet with your team and/or members to talk about how to access the frequently overlooked talent pool of Floridians with disabilities.

To schedule a meeting or if you have questions, please contact me at to start the conversation.

Allison Chase

President & CEO


OPINION: Taking Arizona’s Employment First Philosophy from Theory to Practice

Danny Seiden, President and CEO, Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry

State Sen. Steve Kaiser, R-Phoenix, recently presented a resolution to his Senate colleagues that might be one of the most important pieces of business the Legislature attends to this session. It didn’t assert the need for a balanced budget or a secure border or call for passage of a bill that would divide supporters and opponents along partisan lines.

What it did was affirm that every person, regardless of ability, should have the right to pursue meaningful work that is essential so that individuals with disabilities in Arizona can thrive.

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The Able Trust, also known as the Florida Endowment Foundation for Vocational Rehabilitation, is a 501(c)(3) public charity established by the Florida Legislature in 1990 as a direct support organization for the 

Florida Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. Its mission is to be a key leader in providing

Floridians with disabilities opportunities for successful employment.

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