Washington, D.C., Oct. 12 – Gov. Susana Martinez has proclaimed October 2018 to be Disability Employment Awareness Month in New Mexico.
“New Mexicans with disabilities are valued members of society and all members of society deserve the opportunity to work,” Martinez wrote. People with disabilities “can add value to the workplace, both because they are dedicated, loyal, and productive” employees and because they can “contribute to new product and service innovations that improve a company’s bottom line.”
“All citizens, regardless of disability, have the right to pursue the full range of available employment opportunities to earn a living wage in a job of their choosing,” Martinez added.
This proclamation follows a reasonable year of job growth which saw nearly 1,000 New Mexicans with disabilities gain new jobs.
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 (NDEAM) is dedicated to raising awareness about disability employment issues and celebrating the incredible contributions of people with disabilities. In total, 153,667 working-age people live with some form of disability in New Mexico. 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.
Among them, 49,084, or 31.94 percent, have jobs. According to RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that works to fight stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities, New Mexico ranks 41st compared to the rest of the country. It is great news for the state that employment has risen, and this month presents the opportunity for even more growth.
“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. Companies such as JP Morgan Chase, Coca-Cola, UPS, IBM, Starbucks and Walgreens practice inclusive hiring and have had great success.
“People with disabilities bring unique characteristics and talents to New Mexico’s economy,” 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.”
Additional research and writing credit go to Laura Haney, Emily Kranking, and Stephanie Farfan.