Columbia, SC, October 1 – South Carolina must “reduce the attitudinal and physical barriers that hinder full acceptance of people with disabilities,” said South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster in a proclamation marking October as Disability Employment Awareness Month.
Gov. McMaster also recommitted his state to advancing Employment First policies to prioritize employment outcomes for “all working age citizens with disabilities” and recognizing that “a diverse and capable work force” is key to “further advance the economy of the Palmetto State.”
This is an important public commitment for the more than 362,000 working-age people living with disabilities in South Carolina. In the economic expansion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, South Carolina had a 34.3 percent disability employment rate. By contrast, people without disabilities had an employment rate of 76.8 percent. That means that there is a 42.4 percentage point gap in labor force participation rates between people with and without disabilities.
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 Hon. Steve Bartlett, the Chair Emeritus of RespectAbility, a national disability inclusion organization. “People with disabilities deserve the opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence, just like anyone else. Celebrating NDEAM in South Carolina 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 they can do when given the chance.”
Find more information about NDEAM, including proclamations from other Governors and upcoming events, at RespectAbility’s NDEAM website.