people, a job is more than just punching a clock for a paycheck; it is a
defining element of their lives. What we do for a living has meaning. It
provides a sense of purpose and puts bread on the table. For people with
intellectual and developmental disabilities, having a job can be life-changing.
A job provides pride, independence, contribution and joy.
finding a job can be very difficult for people with intellectual and
developmental disabilities (I/DD). Only 16% of people with I/DDs have paid
employment, though according to an Employment First study, 87% of customers
would prefer to patronize a business that employs people with disabilities. The
opportunity for improvement is clear.
In October, the United States recognizes National
Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), and “Increasing
Access and Opportunity” is the 2020 theme for this year’s observance.
Each October, NDEAM celebrates America’s workers with
disabilities and reminds employers of the importance of inclusive hiring
practices. In 1945, Congress declared the first week of October “National
Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was
dropped to include individuals with all types of disabilities. Congress
expanded the week to a month in 1988, and changed the commemoration to National
Disability Employment Awareness Month.
This year is the nation’s 75th observance of NDEAM, which is
administered by the Department’s Office of Disability Employment
Policy. The observance culminates the Department’s commemoration of the
30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Now More than Ever
The COVID-19 pandemic has created both challenges and
opportunities for employment.
“Ensuring that America’s workplaces continue to include and
accommodate people with disabilities will be an important part of our economic
rebound,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia. “A vigorous economic
rebound and job growth will, alongside the Americans with Disabilities Act,
increase access and opportunity for Americans with disabilities.”
Workplaces welcoming of the talents of all people, including
people with disabilities, are a critical part of our efforts to build an
inclusive community and strong economy.
“People with disabilities are experienced problem solvers
with a proven ability to adapt,” said Office of Disability Employment Policy
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Jennifer Sheehy. “Now more than ever, flexibility
is important for both workers and employers. National Disability Employment
Awareness Month celebrates the ingenuity people with disabilities bring to
For Job Seekers
It’s important to connect people with intellectual and
developmental disabilities with impactful employment in their communities, but
finding an opportunity to join the workforce can be challenging without the
right support. Some agencies offer (typically for a fee) support for job
seekers, including finding a job, working with employers and maintaining
employment. Here are some things to consider:
- Research government agencies, often under
the title of Workforce Development, which can help with vocational
rehabilitation and waiver services to help obtain, maintain and advance
employment for people with disabilities; The Arc is
a reputable, national organization that offers employment support services
potential employers about customized employment planning, onboarding, skills
assessments and on-site job coaching
- Ensure employee safety is paramount and
assistive accommodations are available
In addition to competitive, integrated employment with no formal paid supports, other options include supported and customized employment (competitive, integrated employment with formal paid supports), customized employment, social enterprise or self-employment, and volunteer work
Employers: Why Hire Someone with a Disability?
Why not? 89
percent of employers report that people with disabilities are extremely
dependable employees, according to the Institute for Corporate Productivity,
and a study by American Institutes for Research reports that 92 percent of the
public has a more favorable view toward businesses who employ people with
disabilities. Need more reasons? History shows that employees with disabilities
bring employers a variety of benefits, including:
- Motivated, loyal employees
hiring and training costs because of low turnover rates
- Increased business due to a more
employers interested in learning more about hiring people with disabilities, Bethesda’s Employment Guide provides facts, benefits and resources
to help you.
Disability Employment Awareness Month is celebrated in October, increasing
access and opportunity to employment for people with disabilities should be something
to strive for all the time. Let’s encourage and assist people we know with disabilities
to seek, secure and maintain employment, and encourage more employers to hire
people with disabilities. A diverse workforce including people with
disabilities is good for business.