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  • October is Disability Employment Awareness Month
    Added by My Identity Doctor
    Last year, only 17.9% of Americans with a disability were employed, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. [1] Disability Employment Awareness Month aims to promote the skills of people with disabilities in the workforce, and encourage more companies and employers to hire employees with disabilities. Some events that may be held for Disability Employment Awareness Month in your area include job fairs for job-seekers with disabilities and employers looking to hire people with a disability, training sessions on different types of disability, and workshops for how to accommodate employees with disabilities, and the laws that protect employees with a disability in the workplace.
    Image that says see the person not the disability with silhouettes of people.
    What is a disability?
    A person with a disability, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), is defined as “a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment”. [2]
    The ADA and employment
    At present, the ADA requires employers who have 15 or more employees, to implement practices that do not discriminate against people with disabilities. This means that employees with disabilities are entitled to access the same opportunities as other employees, including hiring, training, pay scale and promotions, as well as social activities in the workplace [2] In the hiring process, employers are limited in what they can ask applicants about their disability, or in the case of invisible disabilities, if they have a disability. [2]
    Why hire people with disabilities?
    As a person with a learning disability and ADHD, the work I produce is no different than anybody else’s who is equally qualified (and, perhaps, may be better given my different perspective on life ;)), but the way I go about doing my work may be different, or the strategies I have in place may be different than people without a disability. This is the same for people with different disabilities: for example, an employee who is a wheelchair user may need only a slightly different workspace to accomplish their work, a person with limited movement may need to dictate their work to a computer program rather than type, or a person who is blind may need software to read their computer screen to them. At the end of the day, the same work still gets done, it just gets done differently. And because people with disabilities represent and are a part of our communities, we can offer unique insight to the company that may make their product, service, or long-term goals more accessible to more people.
    As well, many people with disabilities have developed our own strategies to navigate life with a disability. An employee who you may *think* will be a lot of “work” to accommodate may have their own strategies to self-accommodate, or have technology or equipment already available to them. Grants may be available for employees who do need adaptive equipment or workspace modifications, and many modifications required or extra equipment may be able to benefit the company in other ways, either at present or down the road, too.
    At the end of the day, if an employee is the most qualified candidate… hire them! If they do have a disability, chances are they will know exactly what can help them, and how to accomplish this with minimal impact on the employer.
    Find a Disability Employment Awareness Month event in your area, take a workshop on disability inclusion in the workplace, or talk to a disability advocacy organization in your area about how to make your company, no matter the type, more accessible to people with disabilities—both potential employees or the people you serve. 
    If you have an invisible disability, wearing medical ID jewelry may be important in keeping you safe, both at work and on the go. Take a look at our selection here.
    Published by My Identity Doctor on October 18, 2017


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