October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) and Arkansas had a great first week celebrating inclusive employment.
On October 1st, Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) Arkansas members and staff joined Arkansas Rehabilitation Services (ARS) at the State Capitol for the Arkansas NDEAM kickoff event, along with Lt. Governor Tim Griffin, DisabilityIN, the Arkansas Department of Human Services, the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services, other state agencies, inclusive employers, employees/self-advocates, supported employment service providers and other community partners. Governor Hutchinson issued a proclamation designating October 2019 as National Disability Employment Awareness Month in Arkansas. Council members Alan McClain (ARS Commissioner) and Mark George spoke to attendees about the importance of inclusion in the workforce. Self-advocate, Mahu Nadeem, shared how being employed in the community keeps her busy and independent. Participants ended the event with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, declaring Arkansas “open for business” as a community that values the contributions of people with disabilities in the workforce, in both the private sector and state government.
In an Op-Ed to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, ARS Commissioner McClain wrote “A state’s backbone is its economy, having a profound effect on every citizen. A strong, stable work force is the basis of a healthy economy, and that work force must be an inclusive one where people with skills and talent, including individuals with disabilities, can thrive.” You can access a copy of McClain’s Op-Ed by clicking here.
NDEAM celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and employers who practice inclusive hiring, emphasizing the value of an integrated workforce. Inclusive policies and practices ensure that all Americans who want to work can work and have access to services and supports to enable them to do so. With continued advances in such supports, including accessible technology, it is easier than ever before for America’s employers to hire people with disabilities.
The theme for the 2019 National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is “The Right Talent, Right Now”. This theme emphasizes the essential role that people with disabilities play in America’s economic success, especially in an era when historically low unemployment and global competition are creating a high demand for skilled talent.
According to Eric Munson, Executive Director of GCDD Arkansas, “Competitive, integrated employment is a key part of living a meaningful and inclusive life in the community for Arkansans with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). However, many people with I/DD remain either unemployed or underemployed despite their ability, desire, and willingness to work. The Governor’s Council believes that people with I/DD should have the supports necessary – from individuals and systems – to enable them to find and keep jobs based on their preferences, interests, and strengths and be free from workplace discrimination. For people with disabilities, having competitive, integrated employment means working alongside people without disabilities and receiving comparable wages. People with I/DD live, learn, and work in every part of our state. Just like you, they are interested in a better future.”
For more information on competitive, integrated employment and on NDEAM, check out the following resources:
US Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)
Office of Disability Employment Policy
U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Ave NW
Washington DC 20210
Phone: 1-866-ODEP-DOL (633-7365) or 202-693-7880
ODEP’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) Campaign
ODEP’s Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE)
ODEP’s Workforce Recruitment Program
ODEP’s Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN)
ODEP’s Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
ODEP’s Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT)
ADA National Network Regional Centers: The ADA National Network consists of ten regional ADA Centers located throughout the U.S. that provide information, guidance and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to employers, state and local governments, people with disabilities and others.
APSE (The Association of People Supporting Employment First): The national voice of the Employment First movement. APSE believes in real jobs for real pay for all people with disabilities: Employment First.
Arkansas Employment First
Mission: We provide education and training, information and resources and engagement opportunities to business and industry regarding retaining, hiring and promoting people with disabilities.