As we begin the month of October, we again celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and proudly recognize our workers with disabilities. We also salute employers large and small who are working to recruit and hire qualified individuals with disabilities.
What began in 1945 as a single week of recognition has grown into an international, month-long series of events and opportunities to increase the employment of people with disabilities. This year, we commemorate National Disability Employment Awareness Month with the official theme of “Americans with Disabilities: Ready for the Global Workforce.” This theme will be used by the private sector; federal, state and local governments; and advocacy organizations around the country to plan events and programs that showcase the abilities and skills of job candidates who have disabilities. These events will serve to increase awareness of the successes achieved among both the disability and employment communities, and shed light on the barriers people with disabilities still face in finding and keeping employment.
On October 18th, the American Association of People with Disabilities along with the Social Security Administration and other private sector sponsors will serve as national hosts of Disability Mentoring Day, promoting career development for students and job seekers with disabilities through one-on-one job shadowing and hands-on career exploration. On October 26th, U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao will announce the winners of the Secretary of Labor’s New Freedom Initiative Award to recognize the non-profits, small businesses, corporations and individuals that have demonstrated exemplary and innovative efforts in improving the employment and workplace Environment for people with disabilities. Also in October, we will celebrate the 4th anniversary of DisabilityInfo.gov, an online resource that provides people with disabilities and employers information on a host of cross-cutting topics, including resources on job accommodations and employment programs. This easy-to-navigate Web portal is the federal gateway to disability-related information – from state and local resources to news and events to grants and funding and more.
Under the leadership of Secretary Chao, the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy is developing and influencing policies and practices that directly impact the participation of people with disabilities in the workforce. Across America and beyond, people with disabilities are making tremendous contributions in the work place. This month and throughout the year we acknowledge their important contributions, and reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that people with disabilities realize their employment and career goals.
W. Roy Grizzard, Jr., Ed.D.,
Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy