SC ranks among highest unemployment for people with disabilities. A Charleston shop breaks that mold.

SC ranks among highest unemployment for people with disabilities. A Charleston shop breaks that mold.
The Bitty and Beau's coffee shop in Charleston is a part of a growing movement aimed at including people with disabilities in the workplace. (Source: Live 5 News)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Data from Able South Carolina’s Hire Me SC campaign shows the state failing to provide enough jobs and opportunities for people with disabilities.

With more than two-thirds of people with disabilities in South Carolina not a part of the state’s workforce, the state has the sixth highest unemployment rate in the country for that community, according to Hire Me SC.

"I think that people just hear that someone has a disability and kind of shut down or not give them a chance," Michelle Brazeau, assistant manager at Bitty and Beau's coffee shop said. "By working here it has opened my eyes completely and it shows that they do have these abilities."

The Bitty and Beau's coffee shop in Charleston is a part of a growing movement aimed at including people with disabilities in the workplace.

Saturday marks the two-year anniversary for the cafe. The chain was started by Amy Wright in honor of her two children with Down Syndrome and the majority of the employees have intellectual or physical disabilities.

"I open so many doors here," employee Sam Hazeltine said. "I feel like I have been accomplished. I feel so great inside and I'm a big fan."

It’s something all the employees take pride in.

"We love to hire some different people with disabilities," employee Trista Kutcher said. "We just love people to come work with us."

Brazeau said she hopes the shop's success can be a model for other businesses in South Carolina to seek out and hire people with disabilities.

"What we're here for is to be able to show not only our citizens of Charleston but also anyone that comes to visit that people with intellectual and physical disabilities can hold the same job titles and fill their potential as employees," Brazeau said.

The Hire Me SC campaign has resources for businesses and job seekers who want to learn more about workplace inclusion on their website.

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