National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Huh?

October 5, 2010 at 12:00 am 1 comment

Kimball GrayJust for the record I would like everyone to know that I am not a cynical person, seriously, I’m not. I just tend to use the word WHY more than the typical person. Back to the topic of my article, so exactly who are we trying to make aware of disability employment and why?

This is one of those rare times when I know the WHY. The Department of Labor has released its August 2010 Disability Employment Statistics that demonstrate only 22% of those with disabilities are employed while the percentage of those with no disability in the labor force was 70.2%. Enough said.

I guess I just have trouble understanding exactly who we are trying to make aware of the lack of employment of people with disabilities. I know there are many people that walk up curb cuts on sidewalks and have Braille on their nameplates outside of their office door that are not at all aware of disability issues, much less our employment issues. I’m fairly certain it’s not those of us with disabilities that need to be informed that we are unemployed, underemployed or underpaid relative to our temporarily nondisabled counterparts(see Why section above).

Well if it’s those of us with disabilities that do not need “awareness put upon us” then it must be those yet to be disabled that need to be notified that we are employable and ready to prove it. Now that we know who needs some educating, what are we going to teach them and how?

Credible studies have shown that employees with disabilities had a lower rate of absenteeism from work, saving businesses money due to higher productivity. Workplace accommodations are typically less than $400. I’m sure there are more reasons but these are the two I could come up with in the short amount of time I was given to share my thoughts on awareness with you. I’m trying hard not to say that what we want you to be aware of is that we do not have a job and we want one really, really, really badly!

These are my thoughts and by no means am I an expert in marketing. I believe it’s going to have to be by example that we will make inroads into increasing percentage of those of us with disabilities that are employed.

Young wheelchair user working in an officeThose of us presently with jobs need to do the best job we can, not only for our own personal reasons but also for the next job seeker with a disability. If an employer has a good experience with one employee with a disability then they are more likely to be open to hiring the next job seeker with a disability that comes before them. Is it right, no? Is it reality, yes?

Those of us looking for a job can still go to work, by volunteering. I learned from my dad a long time ago that being employed and working are two entirely different things. Volunteering is a great way to establish a work history by using your skills to benefit an organization or business. Working hard as a volunteer can get you a great reference letter from that organization to include with your resume as work experience.

So don’t think of volunteering as a job, think of it as an extended interview.

By Kimball Gray, ECNV Director of Community Services
Article from the ECNV Declaration (Fall 2010 Edition)


Entry filed under: Newsletter - The ECNV Declaration. Tags: .

From the Editor Looking for a Job

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Andrew Coffron  |  October 5, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Isn’t there a program through the DOL or somewhere, where if a private sector company hires a person with a disabilty, they can either write off the first year salary, or the first year salary is paid for by something? (A federal agency?)
    I am trying to figure out more information on this, so I can then use it in education of people with and without disabilities.
    I look forward to your response, and thank you for the help in my research.


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