The perfect gift for people with disabilities? A job.

This holiday season, people are looking for the perfect gifts for loved ones. For millions of qualified, talented and dedicated Americans with disabilities, what they want is a job.

Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life. People with disabilities deserve an equal opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence, just like anyone else.

Studies show that 70 percent of working-age people with disabilities would like to work, and most young people with disabilities can succeed at a job when given the right opportunities and supports.

There are many kinds of disabilities. Some, like blindness, deafness and physical disabilities, are readily observable; others, such as autism, learning disabilities and mental health conditions, are less so.

Altogether, according to the annual Disability Statistics Compendium, there are 302,274 working-age people with disabilities living in Minnesota. Currently, 48 percent of them have jobs. That puts Minnesota among the best states when it comes to employing people with disabilities.

Even so, there are many more Minnesotans with disabilities who are eager and ready to work. This holiday season, let’s work together to ensure that more of them have the chance to achieve the dignity, income, friends and independence that comes from work.

The writer is the president of RespectAbility, a national nonprofit fighting stigma and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities. This letter to the editor was published on 12/23/2018 in the Star Tribune. Read here.