Letter: Make your workplace welcoming for people with disabilities

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Last month, we recognized National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

NDEAM began in 1945 as just the first week of October, but in 1988, it was expanded to the entire month. NDEAM is about creating awareness and educating the public on issues relating to the employment of people with disabilities.

Employment provides a sense of pride, self-satisfaction and financial independence. Today, 70% of people who have a disability do not work. Fortunately, there is a successful employment program, AbilityOne, that helps to put people to work. It is among the nation’s largest sources of employment for people who are blind or have significant disabilities. Through this program, over 36,000 people with disabilities are employed at nearly 450 nonprofit agencies.

The milestones we acknowledged last month provide an important opportunity for other employers and employees to become more aware by taking a few simple actions.

Review your policies. NDEAM is the time to review your company’s policies to ensure an inclusive and accessible workplace culture.

Establish a disability employee resource group. This gives employees an opportunity to connect and receive support from others with similar backgrounds or interests.

Train supervisors. Consider training to ensure they understand their role in fostering an inclusive workplace culture.

Educate employees. It is critical that companies committed to disability inclusion effectively and regularly reinforce that commitment to employees.

Participate in Disability Mentoring Day. Disability Mentoring Day promotes career development for youth with disabilities through hands-on programs, job shadowing and ongoing mentoring. The nationwide observance is the third Wednesday of each October. Watch for it next year.

There is ample work to do to ensure there are more opportunities for this population. This fall, I am calling on you to make an impact by increasing inclusion and accessibility in your workplace for people with disabilities.

—Jeffrey Mittman
Bosma Enterprises CEO

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