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National Disability Employment Awareness Month: Celebrating the strengths of all individuals 

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) in October celebrates the significant contributions of workers with disabilities.  

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 19.1 percent of individuals with disabilities were employed in 2018. In contrast, the employment-population ratio for those without a disability was 65.9 percent. 

At Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, we recognize the skills and talents of all individuals, and believe youth and adults with disabilities should be given the same opportunities for inclusion as those without disabilities.   

“Ultimately, individuals with disabilities just want to be seen and heard, and it is our responsibility – as human beings – to make this happen by being inclusive, supportive, encouraging and compassionate,” said National Director of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services Stewart Shear, Ph.D. “Whether we do this by campaigning, spreading awareness through social media, having open discussions with friends and family, or offering employment opportunities to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the conversation must continue in order to provide a voice for this vulnerable population.”  

2019 NDEAM campaign

Each year, the U.S. Department of Labor holds a campaign for NDEAM. This year’s theme – “The Right Talent, Right Now” – emphasizes the vital role people with disabilities play in the success of the nation’s economy.  

“Every day, individuals with disabilities add significant value and talent to our workforce and economy,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta stated in a press release. “Individuals with disabilities offer employers diverse perspectives on how to tackle challenges and achieve success. Individuals with disabilities have the right talent, right now.”  

Comparing unemployment statistics

While great strides have been made in employing youth and adults with disabilities, more work needs to done to ensure these individuals have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential.  

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the unemployment rate for people with disabilities was 8 percent in 2018, versus 3.7 percent for those without a disability. Note: Unemployed persons are defined as those who did not have a job, were available for work, or were actively looking for a job in the four weeks preceding the survey. 

“Individuals with disabilities face a unique set of challenges,” Shear noted. “The more we can understand these challenges and support others in that understanding, the more inclusive our communities will become. If you own a business, look for opportunities to hire someone with a developmental disability. If individuals in your neighborhood, or your family, have a disability, find ways to connect with them. Make them feel welcome and engage with them at family gatherings or events.” 

Hiring individuals with disabilities

The U.S. Department of Labor supports several initiatives to help employers interested in hiring individuals with disabilities, including: 

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 from center to 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, in competitive employment, or in volunteer positions in the community. 

“Our programs are designed to foster community inclusion and develop essential living and communication skills,” said Devereux Vice President of Operations – Adult Services Stephen Bruce, M.Ed., BCBA. “Whether our individuals are working in a greenhouse, volunteering at an animal shelter, or simply spending time in the community, Devereux is here to guide and support them every step of the way and help them gain the skills needed to lead more fulfilling lives.” 

 

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