Pierre, S.D. Oct. 4 – Gov. Dennis Daugaard has declared October as Disability Employment Awareness Month in South Dakota.
“The purpose of the month is to celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities and educate the public about disability employment issues,” he stated.
Through various activities in the public, recognition for people with disabilities will spread across the state. Employers will attend these events and learn about working with people with disabilities. They will be encouraged to become more open to hiring employees with disabilities. Likewise, people with disabilities will be more empowered in the work field.
“Hiring individuals with disabilities strengthens businesses, increases competition, and drives innovation,” Daugaard added.
His statement rings true across the country.
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, there are more than 51,000 working-age South Dakotans living 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, 26,323 have jobs. That means South Dakota employs more than half of it’s citizens with disabilities. According to RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that works to fight stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities, South Dakota outperform 48 other state in terms of disability employment.
“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 Dakota’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.”
Throughout the month of October, South Dakota is holding various activities. Across the state, speakers, network opportunities and refreshers will fill up schools, conference centers, churches and more. Locations are in Madison, Aberdeen, Mobridge, Yankton, Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Pierre, and Mitchell. Dates and times can be found at https://dhs.sd.gov/rehabservices/ndeam.aspx.