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iCare4Autism LogoThis October, to help celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month, ICare4Autism hosted its annual conference in Washington, D.C. The focus for this year’s conference was on apprenticeships for high school students with autism and other disabilities. The main takeaway from the conference is that autism can be a strength and even a desired trait for competitive integrated employment in the community.

What is an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are work-based programs that combine schooling and work. People who go through apprenticeship programs can learn a trade in various fields such as construction, carpentry, gardening, recycling, computer coding, medicine or financial services. Students who graduate from an apprenticeship often go on to a secure, good paying job in the community.

What is iCare4Autism and Who Came to the Conference?

iCare4Autism is a nonprofit located in New York and works with students with autism. The CEO is Josh Weinstein, and the organization focuses on education and transitional services. Presenters emphasized competitive integrated employment, a term used for jobs with a living wage and opportunities for advancement. Competitive, integrated jobs are community based and integrate both people with and without disabilities in the same workplace.

Policymakers from the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and The Texas Workforce Commission spoke about advancing opportunities for people with disabilities and best practices to promote employment success. Attending the conference was a diverse audience of doctors, educators, job coaches and nonprofit staff. Special guests also included Congressmen Don Beyer from Virginia and Donald M. Payne from New Jersey. [read more…]

Governor Tom Wolf headshot

Gov. Tom Wolf

Washington, D.C., Oct. 19 – Gov. Tom Wolf has declared October to be Disability Employment Awareness Month in Pennsylvania.

“Workplaces that welcome the talents of all people, including people with disabilities, are a critical part of efforts to build an inclusive community and strong economy.” writes Wolf in his proclamation. “This month will reinforce the value and talent people with disabilities add to our workplace and communities and affirm Pennsylvania’s commitment to be an inclusive community.”

This proclamation comes after a year of steady job growth for people with disabilities. Last year, 6,993 Pennsylvanians with disabilities got new jobs. [read more…]

Gov. Andrew Cuomo headshot

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Washington D.C., Oct. 19 – Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declared October as National Disability Employment Month (NDEM) in New York.

“New York affirms its commitment to promoting diversity in the workplace by highlighting the rich talent and abilities that exist…and promoting inclusive communities that welcome individuals with all types of disabilities,” writes Cuomo. “New York’s government agencies that serve individuals with development and/or intellectual…mental health disabilities have affirmed the state’s commitment to community living by developing implementation plans which include collaboration among many partners that will foster…the creation of more employment options.”

This commitment from the governor comes at a time when jobs for people with disabilities has been increasing in New York state. Last year, 5,081 New Yorkers with disabilities gained jobs. [read more…]

In support of GLAAD and Disney | ABC Television Group Be Inspired’s #SpiritDay campaign to end bullying, RespectAbility staff and Fellows created a video about the importance of stopping bullying and choosing kindness instead.

RespectAbility, a national nonprofit working to fight stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities, recognizes the importance of ending bullying against LGBTQ individuals, including against those who identify as a member of both the disability and LGBTQ communities. Read about some of RespectAbility’s staff and Fellows’ experiences:

Headshot of Governor Kate Brown

Gov. Kate Brown

Washington, D.C., Oct. 18 – Gov. Kate Brown has declared October 2018 Disability Employment Awareness Month in Oregon.

“Workplaces welcoming talents of all people, including people with disabilities, are a critical part of our efforts to build an inclusive community and strong economy,” writes Brown in her proclamation. “In the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Oregon’s Employment First initiative, we can improve and expand access to education and opportunities for people with disabilities to integrate into the workplace.”

Brown adds, “By working together to open doors of opportunity for all Oregon residents, including for those with disabilities, we can help fulfill the promise of our great State.”

Even as more people with disabilities got jobs nationally, 2,241 Oregonians with disabilities lost their jobs last year. The sobering reality of this fact gives Beaver State residents the chance to pause and think about what can be done to improve outcomes. [read more…]

John Kasich headshot

Gov. John Kasich

Washington, D.C. Oct. 18 – Gov. John Kasich has declared October 2018 Disability Employment Awareness Month in Ohio.

“Maximizing the skills and talents of all Ohioans is essential to our state’s success and the skills that individuals with disabilities bring to our workforce, in both the public and private sectors, are vitally important,” writes Kasich in his proclamation. “Ohio’s workforce is enhanced when individuals with disabilities are employed and Ohio is fully committed to working with individuals to utilize their education, qualifications, talents and experiences to help them achieve employment.”

Citing the transformative work of Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, Kasich added, “Ohio is setting the standard for bringing business leaders and disability stakeholders together to reduce barriers faced by those seeking employment.”

This proclamation follows a solid year of job growth that saw 6,707 Ohioans with disabilities get new jobs last year. [read more…]

Gov. Bill Walker headshot

Gov. Bill Walker

Washington, D.C., Oct. 18 – Gov. Bill Walker proclaimed October 1-7, 2018 to be Alaska Employ People with Disabilities Week.

“During the first week of October, the State of Alaska celebrates and recognizes the talents of individuals with disabilities in the workplace and promotes raising awareness about disability employment opportunities as well as challenges,” writes Walker in the proclamation. “Competitive and integrated employment provides individuals with a sense of pride, financial security, stable living conditions, access to better health management, and increased independence.”

This commitment from the governor comes at a time when jobs for people with disabilities have been increasing in the state of Alaska. Last year, 4,139 Alaskans with disabilities gained jobs.

Activities throughout the week should reflect the message that people with and without disabilities share the same workplace goals and values. Walker encourages Alaskans to celebrate workers with disabilities with appropriate programs and activities throughout the week that encourage employers to hire people with disabilities. [read more…]

Photos of Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) on This Is Us

Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) on This Is Us

Los Angeles, California, Oct. 15 – The third season of This Is Us continues to tear at viewers’ heartstrings while carefully using its platform to shed light on an important issue that often goes unspoken in today’s society: mental health. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one-in-five Americans lives with some form of mental illness. Not only is the show written in a way that people can connect with but it also is subliminally inviting the everyday viewer to join the conversation about the inclusion of people with disabilities.

Spoilers ahead.

[read more…]

Gov. Mark Dayton headshot

Gov. Mark Dayton

Washington, D.C., Oct. 15 – Gov. Mark Dayton has declared October 2018 Disability Employment Awareness Month in Minnesota.

“Individuals with disabilities are proving themselves as valuable and productive contributors and taxpayers in the workforce,” writes Dayton in his proclamation. “To benefit Minnesota’s economy and its competitiveness in the global marketplace, the State of Minnesota must value the contributions of all people, including those with disabilities.”

This proclamation comes after a year of steady job growth for people with disabilities. Last year, 3,823 Minnesotans with disabilities got new jobs. [read more…]

Gov. Doug Ducey headshot

Gov. Doug Ducey

Washington, D.C., Oct. 15 – Gov. Doug Ducey has declared October 2018 Disability Employment Awareness Month in Arizona.

“Arizona workplaces welcoming of the talents of all residents including individuals with disabilities, are part of a critical parts of our efforts to encourage a diverse community and rigorous economy,” writes Gov. Ducey. “Arizona prospers when an integrated workforce includes people with and without disabilities working side by side earning competitive wages and benefits. Businesses and organizations that hire, retain, and promote people with disabilities continue to discover that a strong workforce is an inclusive workforce. The perspective and creativity of people with disabilities benefit employers who acknowledge each person’s unique strengths and talents.”

This proclamation follows an outstanding year of job growth which saw 7,266 Arizonans with disabilities get new jobs. [read more…]

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