The hospitality industry isn’t known for being very hospitable towards hiring people with disabilities. Case in point: A study from the University of New Hampshire found that some hospitality employers have certain prejudices that disabled people cannot do the same work as effectively or are more expensive to employ compared to non-disabled workers. As Alanis Morissette would say, “Isn’t it ironic?”
However, a hotel that’s currently in construction in Muncie, Ind., wants to flip this notion upside down. As the Huffington Post reports, the Courtyard by Marriott is the first hotel in the country focused on training and employing people with disabilities. Most notably, the hotel plans to fill up 20 percent of its staff with disabled workers.
This initiative is all thanks to the efforts of Jeff Huffman, the father to a son with Down syndrome, who was reportedly inspired to act after seeing his son and others in the same situation repeatedly being denied a job. (The US Census Bureau found that individuals with disabilities accounted for only 6 percent of the country’s labor force.)
MORE: This Grandmother Is Helping People with Down Syndrome Gain Confidence
According to HuffPost, Huffman approached The Arc of Indiana, an organization dedicated to finding employment for disabled people, and together they devised the blueprint for this first-ever type of hotel that aspires to bring more people with disabilities into the growing hospitality industry. In an Arc blog post, the organization noted that the hospitality industry added 80,000 new jobs last year alone, adding “this is an area where individuals with disabilities can not only shine but excel.” Disability Scoop notes that future employees will hold all kinds of positions, including management.
The new hotel is expected to open next summer.