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October 1, 2021: Ensuring that people with developmental disabilities and other disabilities secure and maintain meaningful, competitive employment is an important part of what People Inc. does year-round. Each October, People Inc. recognizes National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), a time set aside to educate the community about disability issues and to celebrate the many and varied talents and valuable contributions of workers with disabilities and their impact on the economy. 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. This group of job seekers are unemployed at a rate that is twice that of job seekers without disabilities.
The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month traces back to 1945 when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
“Our national recovery from the pandemic cannot be completed without the inclusion of all Americans, in particular people with disabilities,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “Their contributions have historically been vital to our nation’s success, and are more important today than ever. We must build an economy that fully includes the talent and drive of those with disabilities.”
People Inc. is seeking new businesses in Western New York and the Greater Rochester region to join its current 300 business partners. People Inc. helps companies fill openings specific to their need and demand through the supported employment program. Additionally, several business solutions have been established that offer high-quality work, ranging from janitorial and carpet cleaning to workforce solutions and contract manufacturing. Hiring a qualified person with a disability brings greater benefits beyond just filling an open job – it means increased productivity, enhanced corporate culture and dedicated, loyal and efficient employees – all of which contribute to a company’s success! People Inc. is proud to support people in their career goals through its Supported Employment and Vocational Programs. People of all abilities have the right to equal employment opportunities.
The goal of the agency’s Vocational Services is to help people with all abilities find a job that is suitable to their specific interests, strengths and abilities. A hallmark of the success of the People Inc. program is that if there is not a good job match in traditional employment opportunities, the agency creates them so that people who are ready and willing to work, can. These jobs are competitive and integrated and provide real wages to the people supported by the agency.
“People Inc. is proud to be a part of this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month,” said Rhonda Frederick, President and CEO. “We want to spread the important message that we value all perspectives, including those of people with disabilities.” Reflecting this year’s theme, she remarked, “People Inc. confirms its commitment to an inclusive work culture, continuing to be a resource to the business community on disability employment issues and opening the door to building new relationships with business of all sizes across the region.”
For a detailed conversation about employing people with disabilities, revisit this TEDx Buffalo talk, entitled “Differently Abled: Employing the Next FDR,” presented by Rhonda Frederick from 2015. “This presentation is still relevant today and I challenge all owners of businesses of any size, as well as community organizations, to think differently about people with disabilities in the workplace – how can you promote inclusion in your workplace? Together, let’s break down the barriers that still exist.”
If businesses would like to find out how to partner with People Inc., or a person with a disability would like to learn more, email James Scutt at firstname.lastname@example.org or call its Vocational Services Department at 716-817-5750.
People Inc., a multispecialty non-profit health and human services agency, provides programs and services to more than 5,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, families and older adults throughout Western New York and the Greater Rochester region. Since 1970, People Inc. has assisted people to achieve greater degrees of independence and productivity. With nearly 4,000 employees, People Inc. is one of the region’s largest employers. To learn more, visit people-inc.org, follow People Inc. on Facebook or Twitter @PeopleIncNews.