Charleston, S.C., Oct. 4 – Gov. Henry McMaster has declared October to be Disability Employment Awareness Month in South Carolina. “South Carolinians with disabilities have the same aspirations to competitively work and contribute to their communities as anyone else,” McMaster stated.
The proclamation also notes, “all people are need to reduce attitudinal and physical barriers that hinder the full acceptance of people with disabilities and their rightful place in employment.”
In closing his statement, Gov. McMaster commits to “encourage all South Carolinians to work together to advance the message that people with disabilities are equal to the task.”
This proclamation follows a great year of job growth among people with disabilities living in the Palmetto State. Last year, 23,416 South Carolinians with disabilities entered the state’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, 388,251 working-age people live with some form of disability in South Carolina. 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, 129,766 have jobs. That means the Palmetto State has a disability employment rate of 33.4 percent. According to RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that works to fight stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities, South Carolina ranks 37th 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.
“People with disabilities bring unique characteristics and talents to South Carolina’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.”
Charleston, South Carolina is the home of famous coffee shop, Bitty and Beau’s, which exclusively hires people with disabilities. Owner Ben Wright told Fox News that the shop is a human rights campaign disguised as a coffee shop. The store was created as an attempt to decrease unemployment rates for people with disabilities and has been a huge success, gaining national press coverage.
Success stories like that of Bitty and Beau’s show that when people with disabilities are given access to the workforce, both the individual and the employers benefit.
Additional research and writing credit go to Laura Haney, Emily Kranking, and Stephanie Farfan.