Every October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Started in 1945 by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), NDEAM was created to help educate people about issues and biases that can occur with disability employment and to also bring light to the contributions that Americans with disabilities bring to their companies.
According to the DOL, more than 18 million United States citizens with disabilities work either full-time or part-time. Across all age groups, an individual with a disability is less likely to be employed than someone without one. That could be for a variety of reasons including the disability doesn’t allow them to work and also because of discrimination. Helping to educate and eliminate biases against individuals with disabilities is a goal of NDEAM as well as with Casmir Cares.
What Is a Disability?
NPR discovered in one study that 1 in 7 people on Earth is disabled. With the percentage of those who are disabled being employed going down 2 percent over the past year, making concerted efforts to attract and hire an individual with a disability is more important than ever. But what is considered a disability?
Defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as being both physical and mental conditions, despite some beliefs, disabilities are not always visible. Conditions including diseases, deafness, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, blindness, intellectual disabilities, and loss of limbs qualify as a disability. Employers need to be careful not to make pre-employment inquiries about a potential employee’s perceived disability. Every applicant needs to be treated the same. Employers are allowed to ask if applicants can prefer the job, with or without reasonable accommodations.
Even after hiring, employers need to be careful with what they ask and how they treat employees. Well-trained Human Resource departments will be up to date with the laws and should always be consulted by managers to ensure all employees are being treated equally and fairly.
It is illegal for employers to discriminate against qualified individuals who have a disability. This applies to both private employers and government agencies.
How Employers Help Those with Disabilities
The best way to include employees with disabilities is to treat them like every other employee. Whether you can visibly see the disability, or you assume an employee might have a disability, the key to not making judgments to be inclusive. The DOL provides suggestions on how employers can have a year-round strategy on how to advance disability inclusion including:
- Hosting a lunch and learn session for employees on disability issues
- Providing volunteer hours to employees to help at an organization that assists those with disabilities
- Having disability training in onboarding for all employees
- Offering classes in American Sign Language to help employees be able to foster better communication between employees who have their hearing and those who are deaf
Another way employers can be inclusive is to actively recruit applicants from organizations that assist in preparing those with disabilities for work. Nonprofits such as Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind, The Arc, and Easterseals work towards providing training and placement to prepare people for the work world. There are also sites like abilityJOBs, GettingHired, and Inclusive that accept job postings from organizations that are interested in becoming more inclusive and interviewing and hiring those with disabilities. Working directly with these organizations can make the process easier for employers who are becoming more inclusive and may need some guidance and education.
Casmir Cares Can Help
Casmir Cares is dedicated to providing vocational assessments, resume and interview preparation, job coaching, and travel training to help empower individuals to successfully integrate into their communities with employment and training. Our job coaches are committed to networking with local community businesses to obtain the best employment match for each individual.
Casmir Cares is also a member of the Philadelphia Employment Forum. A group of representatives from different organizations and parents, the forum is dedicated to promoting employment for those with disabilities. By promoting the philosophy of work and employment for all individuals with disabilities in the Philadelphia area, our goal is to influence and shape policies while educating employers about the many advantages of hiring individuals who happen to have disabilities.
For more information on how Casmir Cares can help your business locate qualified applicants, contact us and we can talk.