National Disability Employment Awareness Month
Less than 20% of people with disabilities are currently employed, drastically lower than the 65% employment rate of people without disabilities. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the best possible time to educate ourselves about successful practices for job seekers, and the many resources available to Americans with disabilities and employers interested in recruiting people with disabilities.
Fortunately, employers are taking notice that people with disabilities are dedicated problem solvers with a demonstrated ability to adapt to different situations. Companies working towards bringing greater diversity to their workplace have resources available to them.
- With programs like Going for the Gold, the USBLN team is dedicated to helping businesses meet and exceed their goals through disability inclusion in the workplace. In fact, top-scoring companies in their annual benchmarking study, the Disability Equality Index, are recognized as a DEI “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion.”
- The US Department of Labor supports several initiatives that help employers interested in hiring individuals with disabilities. It also offers resources to educate employers on effective methods to use when recruiting and hiring people with disabilities.
But whether it’s a vision, hearing, physical, or cognitive limitation, some potential employers may have concerns whether a person with a disability will have the ability to do a job. Fortunately the Americans with Disabilities Act offers special protection, but there are several other ways a person can make the case for making sure disability doesn’t stand in the way of landing a dream job.
Focus on the Can, Not the Can’t
If you need to ask for special accommodations, phrase it in a context of how it makes you better: “I’m going to need a ramp to be able to access the meeting room, but, once I’m in there, I’ll be as prepared and equipped as anyone else in the room.”
Talk Yourself Up
Interviewers expect prospective employees to detail their strengths and qualifications, and people with disabilities should do just that. Discussing responsibilities held at previous jobs, internships and volunteer organizations demonstrates the ability to get the job done.
Find a Mentor
Platforms like the Rising Leaders Mentoring Program are a wonderful opportunity to connect with business professionals in their field of interest. Mentees have a chance to interact with professionals with whom they would not otherwise have access to, as well as gain first-hand knowledge of a specific career and organization.
Put People at Ease
Some people still feel uncomfortable when interacting with someone with a disability. In an interview situation, the more comfortable an interviewee can make a prospective boss, the better the chance of getting hired.
Be Up Front
People sometimes notice a disability before they notice the person. While a person’s disability is not something that needs to be included in a resume or initial conversations, it should be addressed quickly during an interview. It shouldn’t become the elephant in the room.
There is a vast array of resources for job seekers with disabilities. People within the disability community area a great source. Here are others:
- GettingHired provides a free career portal for job seekers with disabilities to create a profile and apply to over 100,000 job openings with their 180+ inclusive employers across the United States.
- The Job Accommodation Network provides free, expert and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations to employers as well as to employees, job seekers, family members and service providers.
- The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) focuses on hiring, retaining, and promoting; and provides services to support employers in the recruitment of individuals with disabilities.
- Project HIRED promotes self-sufficiency and independence, and guides job seekers with disabilities find and sustain employment.
- The Leadership for Employment and Economic Advancement for Individuals with Disabilities (LEAD Center) works with individual states to leverage the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) in an effort to increase the employment, financial literacy and self-sufficiency of their citizens with disabilities.
- The National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth) supports local and state youth programs that improve employment and post-secondary education outcomes for youths with disabilities.
- The Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) promotes the employment of people with disabilities through the development, adoption and promotion of accessible technology policy.
There are several Twitter chats occurring during NDEAM. Below, please find just a few that USBLN has heard about. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like us to include any other online opportunities!
Oct 10 11-12pm EST | GettingHired Twitter Chat
As part of our employer’s sponsorship with NDEAM, we are inviting our clients to participate in an NDEAM Twitter Chat to highlight their inclusive employer brand. The chat will happen from the GettingHired Twitter handle on October 10th between 11:00AM-12:00PM EST.
Tip: For us to monitor the posts to go out, we recommend including #NDEAMatGHI in every post or include @gettinghired’s Twitter handle.
Oct. 19 2:00-2:45pm EST | Inclusion Drives Innovation: A Chat with Leaders on Disability Employment
In recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), the U.S. Department of Labor is hosting a Twitter Chat to highlight the many ways that “Inclusion Drives Innovation” in America’s workplaces. Hosted in collaboration with the Office of Disability Employment Policy and several of its Alliance partners, the chat will foster a rich online discussion about the critical role that differing perspectives play in today’s innovation economy. To join, please follow along using #In4In.
Applying these tips and exploring these resources will leave people with disabilities better prepared and informed to navigate the workforce, and employers with a more dedicated, qualified, and diverse workforce.
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Get to know Chad Jerdee
As an amputee, I know what it feels like to be different and have people make assumptions about what I can and can't do. Disability inclusion is about overcoming those assumptions.