October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. To celebrate the varied contributions of employees with disabilities and educate about disability employment the CSU Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) is offering training and hosting a traveling exhibit.
“People with disabilities are the largest underrepresented group in the United States,” said Jennifer Mayhew, assistant director for complaints and disabilities in the CSU Office of Equal Opportunity. “About 30 percent of employees 18 to 64 years old meet the definition of having a disability. It is also important to realize that disability is the one identity group that any individual can join at any point in their life.”
Since 1945, October has been set aside as a time to celebrate the nation’s workers with disabilities and educate about the importance of inclusive policies and practices that ensure that all who want to work are able to and are provided support and services that enable them to do so.
The federal government defines a person with a disability as someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more “major life activities.” In addition to physical disabilities that may easily be seen, Mayhew said employers and co-workers should be aware that many disabilities are not as apparent or obvious. “Just because someone doesn’t appear disabled to you doesn’t mean they are not experiencing an impairment that substantially limits aspects of their daily lives,” she said.
Allies for Inclusion: The Ability Exhibit Oct. 14-15
To spread awareness about disability employment and educate co-workers and employers, the OEO will host Allies for Inclusion: The Ability Exhibit on Oct. 14 and 15 in the Lory Student Center Ballroom A. The exhibit, from the Ability Institute at St. Louis University, promotes inclusion of people with disabilities through respect for others, comfort during interactions and awareness of disability issues in the workplace and society. The multimedia exhibit promotes awareness of disability challenges and opportunities for advocacy and suggests ways to become a disability ally and advocate.
Mayhew said the Ability Exhibit will be a wonderful addition to the annual CSU Diversity Symposium, which runs from Oct. 14-18. In addition to the exhibit, various disability resources will have information tables and support services on hand, including OEO, Assistive Technology Resource Center (ATRC), Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, ATRC’s sub-committee on web accessibility, the Student Disability Center, and the Center for Community Partnerships.
The following week, on Oct. 21 from 11:30 a.m.—12:30 p.m., OEO will present a training called “Accommodations for Employees with Disabilities” in the Lory Student Center Room 324.
“Every day, individuals with disabilities add significant value and talent to our workforce and economy,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “Individuals with disabilities offer employers diverse perspectives on how to tackle challenges and achieve success. Individuals with disabilities have the right talent, right now.”