Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Throughout the month of October, the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) is pleased to recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), organized by the U.S. Department of Labor. Employment is vital to helping people with developmental disabilities live richer lives.
This year's NDEAM theme, “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation,” recognizes people with disabilities’ vital role in a diverse and inclusive American workforce. As employers strive to fill their open positions and encourage diversity, we want to remind them that people with disabilities, including those with developmental disabilities, represent a largely untapped pool of employees who are ready, willing and able to work.
Improving the employment rate among people with disabilities will take concerted effort. But it’s work that OPWDD is committed to doing. In our agency’s draft 5-year Strategic Plan, we’ve outlined plans to increase the number of provider agencies that offer the full continuum of employment services so that people are equipped to find and succeed in jobs that meet their interests. We also continue to encourage employers to hire people with disabilities through initiatives like our EmployAbility Toolkit and Pledge.
This year, we’re incredibly grateful to be sponsoring and participating in New York State’s first-ever Disability Rights and Employment Awareness Month (DREAM) Symposium on October 4 being spearheaded by Governor Kathy Hochul and our State’s Chief Disability Officer, Kim Hill. The goal of the event is to highlight the value that New Yorkers with disabilities bring to the workforce and assist in matching prospective qualified candidates with employers who believe that a diverse workforce is an empowered, quality workforce.
Later this month I and other OPWDD leaders will be visiting some employers who have benefited by having people with developmental disabilities on their teams, and we’ll be sharing some of those stories with you. It’s all part of our effort to help educate employers about the tremendous ability among people with disabilities and encourage them to expand their hiring and reap the benefits.
We hope you will join us in spreading Disability Employment Awareness by sharing your own stories of success on your social media channels. Is there someone with a developmental disability who you've seen doing an excellent job in your community? Have you hired someone with a developmental disability who has been an asset to your business? Are you a person with a developmental disability doing work that you enjoy and making a difference for your employer? We want to know! You can share your story on your own social media channels using the hashtag #NDEAM22 or you can share your story with us via email at [email protected]
I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.
Kerri E. Neifeld