RALEIGH, NC (October 2016) - Each October, employers and people with disabilities observe National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) to celebrate the many contributions of workers with disabilities. In reality, people with disabilities face an unemployment rate as high as 80% in North Carolina and across the country.
This year's theme, #InclusionWorks, aims to show that people with disabilities can work alongside their colleagues without disabilities and add value to the workplace.
"Efforts are underway in the private sector and on the national and state levels to address the very high unemployment rate among people with disabilities," said Chris Egan, executive director of the North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities (NCCDD). "For example, Employment First is a national movement built on the idea that employment is the first priority and preferred outcome for people with disabilities."
Employment is a major area of emphasis for NCCDD as it falls under one of its Five Year Plan goals of Financial Security Through Asset Development. NCCDD initiatives working to increase competitive employment opportunities for people with intellectual and other developmental disabilities (I/DD) include Project SEARCH and Learning and Earning After High School. A new Expansion of Employment Opportunities for People with I/DD initiative will support apprenticeships for people with I/DD and the formation of a new coalition focused on employment for people with I/DD.
"Employment is so important to people -- it provides a sense of purpose, pride and accomplishment, while building a network of co-workers and friends that grows to become an important part of their lives," said Egan. "Here in North Carolina, we have a great opportunity for state, county and municipal government to set the example by ensuring inclusive hiring processes are in place that encourage applicants with disabilities to apply and compete for jobs."
About the North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities:
The North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities (NCCDD) works to assure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families participate in the design of and have access to needed community services, individualized supports and other forms of assistance that promote self-determination, independence, productivity and inclusion in all areas of community life. The Council identifies problems facing its community through its five-year planning process and funds innovative projects and initiatives that promote the goals of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act) for all North Carolinians.