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National Disability Employment Awareness Month: Seeing the ability in disability

Autism Advocate Temple Grandin once said, “The world needs all kinds of minds.”

During National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), celebrated every October, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health is highlighting the importance of ensuring people with disabilities feel a sense of belonging, and have access to the same employment and community engagement opportunities as those without disabilities.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, 19.1% of individuals with disabilities were employed in 2021, up from 17.9% in 2020. In contrast, the employment-population ratio for those without a disability was 63.7%, up from 61.8% in 2020. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the data for both groups reflects the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the labor market.

“People with disabilities want to feel welcome, comfortable and included, but all too often, they face barriers to employment, and are denied the opportunity to demonstrate their unique and valuable skills,” said Devereux Vice President of Operations – Adult Services Stephen Bruce, M.Ed., BCBA. “These individuals are experienced problem-solvers with a proven ability to adapt, and employers who hire them gain talented and loyal employees who offer creativity, innovation and varied perspectives on how to rise to challenges and get the job done.”

2022 NDEAM campaign

Each year, the U.S. Department of Labor holds a national campaign for NDEAM. This year’s theme – Disability: Part of the Equity Equation – recognizes the vital role people with disabilities play in making the nation’s workforce diverse and inclusive.

“A strong workforce is the sum of many parts, and disability has always been a key part of the equation,” Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy Taryn M. Williams explained in a news release announcing the 2022 NDEAM theme. “People with disabilities make up a wonderfully multifaceted group. By recognizing the full complexion of our community, we can ensure our efforts to achieve disability inclusion are, in fact, truly inclusive.”

Recruitment, retention resources

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) offers resources to help employers effectively recruit and retain individuals with disabilities, including:

  • Inclusion@Work Framework: Outlines seven core components of a disability-inclusive workplace, along with strategies for achieving them
  • Campaign for Disability Employment: Promotes positive employment outcomes for people with disabilities by encouraging employers to recognize the value and talent they bring to the workplace, and implement flexible and inclusive workplace practices
  • TalentWorks: Helps employers make their electronic recruiting technologies accessible to all job seekers, including those with disabilities
  • Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion: Educates employers about effective strategies for recruiting, hiring, retaining and advancing people with disabilities
  • Medical- and Disability-Related Leave Advisor: Advises employers and employees on what leaves employees may be entitled to take for purposes of managing medical conditions and disabilities

Devereux’s employment programs offer opportunities to thrive

Devereux offers a variety of employment services and supports for youth and adults living with emotional, behavioral and cognitive differences. Programs (which vary by center) include:

  • Pre-employment training: Focuses on skill-building, including personal identification, personal hygiene, clothing care, telling time and housekeeping.
  • Community-supported employment: Job assessments are conducted to identify strengths, needs and preferences. Employment specialists work with individuals on resume building, interview skills and social interactions. Job coaches help individuals maintain employment.
  • Pre-employment day programs: Individuals acquire the skills needed to work in an employment program, competitive employment or volunteer positions in the community.

“We use a person-centered approach in our employment programs, and work hard to understand each of our individuals’ strengths, needs and interests,” Bruce noted. “There is great ability in disability, and we want to help those in our care build self-confidence, utilize their skills, achieve their goals and thrive.”

Learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health’s employment and transition services.


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