Austin, TX, October 1 – “The month of October is dedicated to celebrating and recognizing the indispensable contributions Texans with disabilities provide to the Lone Star State’s economy,” said Texas Governor Greg Abbott in a proclamation marking October as Disability Employment Awareness Month.
Gov. Abbott, who is himself a wheelchair user, also noted that “promoting disability employment awareness,” “creating more inclusive workplaces,” and “cultivating more employment opportunities for Texans with disabilities” are key priorities in his final year in office.
This is an important public commitment for the more than 1.6 million working-age people living with disabilities in the Lone Star State. In the economic expansion prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Texas had a 41.9 percent disability employment rate. By contrast, people without disabilities had an employment rate of 77.5 percent. That means that there is a 35.5 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 former Mayor of Dallas and 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 Texas is just the first step in working to get more people with disabilities into the workforce, earning an income and being included in the wider society.”
“Employers who want to onboard the best possible talent need to have a strategy for hiring people with disabilities. Finding the right jobs for the right people with disabilities who are qualified is not that difficult,” added Linda Burger, MSSW, Chief Executive Officer of Jewish Family Service Houston and RespectAbility’s Treasurer. Burger went on to add that “disability and workforce organizations like JFS Houston have critical programs and services to support the employer through the process.”
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.”
Find more information about NDEAM, including proclamations from other Governors and upcoming events, at RespectAbility’s NDEAM website.