October 2015 was proclaimed the National Disability Employment Awareness Month, urging all Americans to embrace the talents and skills of individuals with disabilities and to promote their right to equal employment opportunity. Let us all recognize that human beings have many aspects to them and may not be branded by just their disability. A disability need not push a person to be unemployed, underemployed or dependent on Social Security disability benefits.
But, facts belie these beliefs when we look at the status of persons with disabilities, who make up almost one-fifth of America’s population.
This reality completely defeats the aims of laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which aimed to fulfill the fundamental American promises of equal access, equal opportunity, and equal respect for all. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) requires all federal contractors (and their subcontractors) to establish Affirmative Action Plans and hire people with disabilities to achieve a seven per cent utilization goal. This has helped bring more persons with disabilities into Federal service than at any point in the last three decades, but this has not proved sufficient to meet the needs of everyone.
Companies must be creative and accommodating when offering employment opportunities to individuals with disabilities. There is a lot of help to be had from different sources and various federal initiatives.
Follow these steps to transition to a disability inclusive employer:
October is coming to a close, but the need to support disabled workers is not. People with disabilities add significant value to their workplaces and have proven to be capable and motivated workers. By bringing them on-board, an employer stands to get much more than the investment they are making in accommodating the worker’s needs.
Cite examples of how your workplace has accommodated a disabled worker, and the benefits derived. We want to hear from you.
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