Atlanta, GA. Oct. 4 – Gov. Nathan Deal has declared October as Disability Employment Awareness Month in Georgia. In a signed proclamation, the Governor wrote, “The full inclusion and successful employment of individuals with disabilities are essential to building a robust and competitive workforce.”
Gov. Deal’s proclamation goes on to state, “Georgia is committed to expanding employment opportunities for citizens with disabilities.”
This proclamation follows an outstanding year of job growth among people with disabilities living in the Peach State. Last year, 28,642 people with disabilities entered Georgia’s workforce.
Meanwhile, President Trump issued a statement saying that his Administration “reaffirms its support for all the employers who hire Americans with disabilities, providing opportunities for success. It is important that all our Nation’s job seekers and creators are both empowered and motivated to partake in our booming economy, and apply their unique talents and skills to the growing workforce.”
He added, “we recognize the achievements of Americans with disabilities whose contributions in the workforce help ensure the strength of our Nation. We also renew our commitment to creating an environment of opportunity for all Americans and educating people about disability employment issues.”
An annual celebration, National Disability Employment Awareness Month is dedicated to raising awareness about disability employment issues and celebrating the incredible contributions of people with disabilities. In total, the more than 698,000 working-age Georgians with disabilities. That total includes people who are blind or deaf or have other visible conditions such as spinal cord injuries, as well as people with invisible disabilities including learning disabilities, mental health or Autism.
Of that number, 236,577 have jobs. That means Georgia has a disability employment rate of 33.9 percent. According to RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that works to fight stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities, Georgia ranks 36th compared to the rest of the country.
“Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” said Steve Bartlett, the chair of RespectAbility. Bartlett, a former U.S. Congressman, the former Mayor of Dallas and a principal author of the Americans with Disabilities Act went on to say, “People with disabilities deserve equal opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence just like anyone else.”
When people with disabilities are given access to the workforce, both the individual and the employers benefit. People with disabilities can bring new talents and ways of thinking to the table. In addition, they are more likely to be loyal to a company once they are hired. Companies such as JP Morgan Chase, Coca-Cola, UPS, IBM, Starbucks and Walgreens practice inclusive hiring and have had great success. As an employer, it is important to consider these talents and advantages when hiring workers.
“Georgians with disabilities bring unique characteristics and talents to the workplace,” adds Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President of RespectAbility. “People with disabilities can work in hospitals and hotels, or apply their talents to develop computer software and website design. There are no limits to what they can do.”
To celebrate Disability Employment Awareness Month, cities across Georgia will be involved by hosting students with disabilities for Disability Mentoring Day on Oct. 17. Disability Mentoring Day will help students and jobseekers with disabilities connect to employers and look for potential jobs, as well as giving them resources when it comes to searching for jobs.
Additional research and writing credit go to Heidi Wangelin, Laura Haney, and Stephanie Farfan.