Bangor Hydro Electric Company

Posted December 22, 2011

Bangor Hydro Electric Company (BHE) has successfully employed people with a disability for many years. “We believe that work is an important part of everyone’s life,” said Susan Faloon, BHE’s communications officer. Employees with a disability, including those that require accommodation to perform their work, work in the same positions as non-disabled employees, such as in the call center and line operations.

“One of our meter readers happens to be deaf,” said Faloon. “We are able to provide American Sign Language interpretation via teleconference technology. The interpreter can hear the speaker and sign the conversation back to the same room via the monitor in real time. This allows our employee to fully participate in all meetings and is extremely convenient.” She described this employee as one of the first to sign up for workplace events. “He is extremely hard working, dedicated and actually looks forward to the challenges of working outside in Maine’s winter weather conditions,” she said.

Over the summer, this employee was also part of an Automatic Vehicle Locator pilot project. He tested technology, used by police departments, that is designed to provide driving directions and vehicle location. This information helps dispatchers assign work. He was one of the first to pilot the technology as his job requires him to be in remote locations with little or no cell or radio coverage. The technology allowed him to better communicate back to the company.

“Reviewing job descriptions with an eye toward physical and mental requirements is a beginning step to identifying jobs, or parts of jobs, that will work well for applicants who may have a disability,” Faloon reported. “The process is a deliberate one. Hiring and retaining workers with a disability requires a permanent commitment to appropriate accommodations that maximize the employee’s development, self worth, and contribution to the company.”

BHE is a strong believer in the power of diversity to strengthen a company and Faloon said that BHE sees employees with a disability as an integral part of the diversity the company is striving for. “The challenges and reality of diverse hiring makes us a stronger workplace and community,” she said. “It builds our understanding of, and compassion for, the needs and challenges confronted by others, and demonstrates that we all have the right to work opportunities, regardless of our differences. With commitment, there are ample opportunities to create positive employment and growth opportunities for everyone, regardless of disability.”

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