Disability Employment Awareness Month

Disability doesn’t always mean unemployed.

Approximately 19 percent of people with a disability in Michigan are employed, reports the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council.

To recognize Michigan’s employment accomplishments and to identify the improvements that are needed to obtain a competitive wage in an integrated environment, Governor Rick Snyder has proclaimed October as Disability Employment Awareness Month in Michigan.

Additionally, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has also proclaimed October as Disability Employment Awareness Month. The proclamation will raise awareness of the role special needs works have in the workplace.

“We should be striving to encourage employment for everyone who wants to work,” Governor Walker said. “Our workers with special needs have much to offer their place of employment. They have talents, skills, and the desire to make a contribution in the workplace, and we need to make it easier for them to find employment.”

Disability Employment Awareness Month is spearheaded nationally by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), with this year’s theme being “Because we are equal to the task.”

This is an opportunity for Michigan and Wisconsin residents to be educated about disability employment issues and to celebrate the contributions of its citizens with disabilities.

“Michigan is making great strides in assisting those with developmental disabilities find integrated employment, but there is still work to be done,” said Vendella M. Collins, Director of the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council.

“We encourage businesses to explore and recognize the contributions that employees with disabilities bring. These workers are loyal, dependable and bring unique contributions to the workforce,” Collins said in a statement.

During the fiscal last year, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Vocational Rehabilitation Program helped 3,840 individuals find employment.

There are eleven Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) offices across Wisconsin providing a wide range of services including career guidance and counseling, job search and placement assistance, transition to work services for students with disabilities, rehabilitation technology, and vocational training.

The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation also serves employers looking for training and technical assistance regarding disability employment issues.

On average, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation works with 17,000 active job seekers with special needs.

Each month in Wisconsin, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation averages 1,486 new applicants, provides 726 new Individualized Plans for Employment, and successfully closes 319 cases.

During October, the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council is celebrating the achievements of people with disabilities in employment and also encouraging businesses to adopt Employment First policy.

In August, the Council adopted an Employment First mission and principles, which outlines the expectation of employment for all working age citizens with disabilities.

An Employment First Policy outlines that people with disabilities are employable and can work in integrated work environments alongside the general workforce and be compensated at or above the minimum wage.

For more information about Employment First and to see the proclamation visit www.michigan.gov/ddcouncil.

For more information on the Department of Workforce Development’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program, visit dwd.wisconsin.gov/dvr/.