Washington, D.C. Oct. 12 – Gov. Matt Mead has declared October as Disability Employment Awareness Month in Wyoming.
Writing that “Wyoming’s citizens are proud of their independence and freedom,” Mead reiterated his ongoing effort to ensure that “people with disabilities can and should have opportunities to work in their communities and be paid competitive wages.”
In the proclamation, Mead reflected on his state’s efforts since 2014 when Wyoming became an Employment First State. In terms of jobs for people with disabilities, the Cowboy State consistently has outperformed other, bigger states like California and Texas.
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 39,161 working-age people with disabilities living in Wyoming. That 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, 18,485 have jobs, giving the state a disability employment rate of 47.2 percent. According to RespectAbility, a nonprofit that advances opportunities for people with disabilities, Wyoming ranks 6th in the nation in terms of employment of people with disabilities.
“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 co-author of the Americans with Disabilities Act added, “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. As an employer, it is important to consider these talents and advantages when hiring workers.
“People with disabilities bring unique characteristics and talents to Wyoming’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 Heidi Wangelin, Emily Kranking, and Stephanie Farfan.