Hartford, CT, October 21 – “I am proud of the way that Connecticut has been seen as a leader in protecting the rights of people with disabilities,” said Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont in a public statement marking October as Disability Employment Awareness Month.
Gov. Lamont went on to add that he was “particularly proud of the many businesses throughout our state that make every effort to include people of all abilities as valued members of their workforces” and that the economy is “strongest when we include people of all abilities in our workplaces.” In closing he noted that “it benefits the entire economy to make sure opportunities and resources are available for everyone.”
This is an important public statement for the more than 202,632 working-age people living with disabilities in the Nutmeg State. In the economic expansion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Connecticut had a 42.9 percent disability employment rate. By contrast, people without disabilities had an employment rate of 79.9 percent. That means that there is a 36.9 percentage point gap in labor force participation rates between people with and without disabilities.
To capitalize on this month’s observation and the current economic moment, jobseekers with disabilities are encourage to participate in Connecticut’s 9th annual Disability Employment Resource Fair on Friday, October 22, 2021. Hosted by the Connecticut Department of Labor and the Department of Aging and Disability Services, this event promises to virtually connect talented workers with disabilities to local economic opportunities. More details and further information is available online here.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), an annual celebration dedicated to raising awareness about disability employment issues and celebrating the incredible contributions of people with disabilities. The theme for NDEAM 2021 is “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion.” This theme reflects the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“NDEAM’s theme calls attention to a key principle: Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” said Olegario “Ollie” Cantos VII, Chairman of the national disability inclusion organization RespectAbility. “People with disabilities deserve the opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence, just like anyone else. Celebrating NDEAM in Connecticut is just the first step in getting more people with disabilities into the workforce so they can earn an income and be included in all aspects of society.”
The success or failure of getting more people with disabilities integrated into the workforce impacts thousands of communities and millions of families nationwide. According to the Census Bureau, there are more than 56 million Americans living with a disability. Disabilities include visible conditions such as spinal cord injuries, visual impairments or hearing loss and nonvisible disabilities such as learning disabilities, mental health or Autism.
Brand name companies such as JP Morgan Chase, Coca-Cola, Ernst & Young, IBM, Walgreens, Starbucks, CVS and Microsoft know that workers with disabilities improve the bottom line and add value to the workforce. “People with disabilities bring unique characteristics and talents to the workplace,” added RespectAbility President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “There are no limits to what we can do when given the chance.”