DATE: October 4, 2021
CONTACT: Cynthia Butler
SACRAMENTO— The California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), administrator of the largest vocational rehabilitation and independent living programs in the country, is celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), an annual event in October that highlights the contributions and talent that people with disabilities bring to the workforce
This year’s theme is “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion,” which 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 is an opportunity to educate business leaders about the benefits of hiring staff that mirrors the diversity of the communities they serve,” said Director Joe Xavier. “Employees with disabilities bring with them families, friends and others who spend their dollars with businesses that are committed to inclusion, equity and representation and show that commitment from entry level staff to company leadership.”
California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly adds, “As Californians, we are committed to ensuring that people with disabilities are provided the opportunity to enter into the workforce. Employment is a key piece of physical and mental well-being, independence, and improved quality of life. The National Disability Employment Awareness Month provides us the opportunity to reflect and ensure that we are prioritizing this objective of inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace.”
During the height of the pandemic, DOR’s mission, and dedication to ensure people with disabilities in California had access to competitive integrative employment did not waiver. The Department’s over 80 offices remained open and staff continued to provide job placement, career guidance, education services and professional development support to eligible individuals with disabilities throughout the state for free.
Unemployment during the public health crisis has disproportionately impacted people with disabilities. According to a report by the Kessler Foundation, from March to April 2020, the number of employed working-age people with disabilities fell by 20 percent (950,000 people), while the number of employed working-age people without disabilities decreased by 14 percent. Based on data trends, it is likely people with disabilities who experience job loss will be slower to recover their previous employment status. This reality is something Xavier says needs to be addressed as the move towards economic recovery continues.
“Even before the pandemic, people with disabilities have struggled to secure and retain employment,” he said. “As state and national leaders discuss and implement recovery strategies, it is imperative that people with disabilities have a seat at the table and are an integral part of the plan. We need to encourage and incentivize businesses to not overlook qualified individuals that are able, eager and ready to work.”
For more information about DOR services and NDEAM, visit the DOR website.
The California Department of Rehabilitation works in partnership with consumers and other stakeholders to provide services and advocacy resulting in employment, independent living, and equality for individuals with disabilities. Visit the California Department of Rehabilitation Website. Follow us on Twitter, and Facebook