All month ACL has been celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) with a variety of events and by sharing resources. NDEAM offers us a chance to recognize the many contributions of workers with disabilities and recommit ourselves to increasing employment opportunities for all people with disabilities.
Julie Hocker, who joined ACL this month as Commissioner of the Administration on Disabilities, traveled to San Diego to meet with job seekers with disabilities as well as leaders from a number of State Councils on Developmental Disabilities. Commissioner Hocker also toured the 19th Annual Jobtoberfest hosted by the San Diego Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.
“The energy in the room fueled me in a way few events could,” Commissioner Hocker wrote. “It reminded me: we must strive every single day to not just remove physical barriers in the workplace (like hard-to-open doors)—but invisible ones, too.”
Funding from ACL helps Councils across the country develop collaborative partnerships with vocational rehabilitation agencies, employment service providers, and the business community to promote competitive integrated employment for people with disabilities. These partnerships have created new opportunities for people with disabilities, including many with significant disabilities, to obtain and sustain community employment of their choosing.
One field in which the perspectives of people with disabilities are especially necessary and valuable is medicine. On October 24, ACL hosted a webinar featuring medical professionals with disabilities who are working to ensure that more people with disabilities can join the healthcare field. Presenters included Lisa I. Iezzoni, MD, MSC, Harvard Medical School; Neera Jain, PhD Candidate, University of Auckland; Karen McCulloh, RN, Founder, National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities; and Michael McKee, MD, MPH, University of Michigan. They discussed the importance of cultural competency and understanding the experiences of people with disabilities, accessibility and inclusion in medical education, and challenging the stigma that surrounds the employment of medical professionals with disabilities. The webinar transcript and slides are available. Stay tuned for a webinar replay soon.
ACL also participated in a webinar sponsored by the Department of Labor’s Office on Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) on strategies to promote competitive integrated employment, where people with and without disabilities work side-by-side and are paid competitive salaries. ACL’s Annette Shea presented on ACL’s many programs supporting disability employment and discussed the importance of Medicaid buy-in. The webinar also highlighted a new report from ODEP’s LEAD Center, Five Ways You Can Help Expand Opportunities for Competitive Integrated Employment in Your Community. Slides from the webinar are available on the webinar page, a recording and transcript of the webinar will be available soon.
At HHS, we believe in leading by example, which is why ACL Administrator Lance Robertson spoke at an event celebrating NDEAM for HHS staff. The event highlighted the importance of accessible workspaces and reasonable accommodations, and previewed some important collaborations with federal partners to knock down barriers to employment for people with disabilities.
Thanks for helping to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month!