Did you know that October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month in the United States? If you did GO YOU! If you didn't, that's okay. There's a lot of societal misconceptions about disabilities, especially when involving employment. In 1988, the United States Congress declared the month of October National Disability Employment Awareness Month to raise awareness of the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities.
In Iowa, we have an unemployment rate of around 2.5%, which is awesome but also provides a challenge to employers when it comes to hiring and retaining qualified employees. What people often forget is that there is a large group of untapped job seekers - people with disabilities. It's time that the perception that individuals with disabilities can't or don't want to work end. It's also time for people to realize what a disability is because it's not always what people assume. Individuals often live with invisible disabilities and face challenges because of the simple fact that when you look at them they appear 'normal.' You may not know this, but I am one of those people. The disabilities that I face don't have a physical appearance. So when you look at me you have no idea that on the inside I am dealing with a lot that makes certain tasks a challenge.
I am so proud to sit on the Board of Directors for Central Iowa Center for Independent Living (CICIL), an organization committed to helping foster a more integrated community. One of the most important services we provide is Supported Employment. Supported Employment has been around since the 1970s and there are still a lot of people who don't know what it is. It refers to provisions wherein people with disabilities are assisted in obtaining and maintaining employment. This includes people with intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, mental illness diagnoses, and more. It's an incredible way to meet the needs of an employer, especially with low unemployment rates.
I hope you've learned something new and would consider Supported Employment for your company's hiring needs.
If you have questions about Disability Employment Awareness Month, Supported Employment, Central Iowa Center for Independent Living, or other questions relating to living with a disability feel free to reach out to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.