Every now and then I come across a national health awareness I did not know existed. This month, I walked in to work at CHOP and saw that October is National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month. Held each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. This year's theme is “A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?”
I happen to have a step-son who is visually impaired and is having a tremendous challenge trying to enter the workforce as a viable employee. He is an adult and willing to work, and can do so. However, accessibility to finding work for anyone, let alone someone with a disability can be extremely frustrating.
Nowadays, most if not all work applications are done on line. They tend to be tedious, and sometimes navigating through all the parts of the application can end up with a comment suggesting fields were not filled out, or that your previous password does not match the current password etc.
It is an act of persistence to push through the paperwork, for anyone. And if you are someone who has physical, emotional or developmental limitations, it is almost impossible unless you have an advocate, caseworker or organization that is able to cut through the red tape for you.
While federal, state and local policies have changed in regards to the receptiveness of abilities of persons with disabilities and to employ them, there still is much to do. In addition, an incentive to want to work is just as important.
We all know places of work in which we see persons with disabilities working happily and competently. Those organizations are willing to train and encourage diversity and the reward is ten-fold to the person employed. While the monetary reward is important, self-fulfillment, self-confidence and independence provides a platform for physical well-being as well. Not to mention the employer is able to feel good about giving opportunity to those in need.
All Americans are entitled to an accessible workplace, a level playing field and the same privileges, pursuits and opportunities as any of their family, friends and neighbors. Sometimes they just need a little help.