RAMP joins effort to observe National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Online Staff Report

RAMP is participating in National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an annual awareness campaign that takes place each October. The purpose of National Disability Employment Awareness Month is to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.

The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month traces back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy, said when announcing this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month theme, which is “Expect. Employ. Empower.”: “We all have a role to play in diversifying the local work force and benefit to gain from strengthening our communities by increasing opportunities for meaningful employment for people with disabilities. This year’s theme encapsulates this in three powerful words. It conveys that advancing disability employment is about much more than just hiring. It’s about creating a continuum of inclusion. And the first step on this continuum is expectation.”

Reflecting this year’s theme, throughout the month, RAMP will be engaging in a variety of activities to educate the community about disability employment issues and the role they play in fostering a disability-friendly work culture. RAMP’s efforts include disability employment awareness presentations at local businesses, participating in disability mentoring day, which allows for 100 people with disabilities the opportunity to participate in employment-related training sessions and the chance to meet with 40 or more local employers. RAMP is always available to answer individual questions regarding employment issues such as accommodations for staff, accessibility for customers, hiring people with disabilities and employment services for people with disabilities.

RAMP is proud to be a part of this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month,” said Julie Bosma, RAMP’s executive director. “We want to spread the important message that a strong workforce encompasses the skills and talents of all individuals, including individuals with disabilities.”

Employers and employees in all industries can learn more about how to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month and ways they can promote its messages — during October and throughout the year — by visiting the ODEP website at www.dol.gov/odep/.

RAMP is a passionate partner for people with disabilities desiring to live a useful and rewarding life. RAMP empowers people with disabilities to realize there are no limits to what they can do. This is accomplished by assisting them to live independently, make changes in their lives, seek peer support, obtain resources and remove the barriers that threaten their right to independence, and the pursuit of their dreams. RAMP advocates the implementation of current laws, promotion of needed legislation and improvement of existing systems for people with disabilities while working to diminish negative attitudes that threaten to impede equal access. RAMP advocates for and serves people with disabilities out of four offices located in Boone, DeKalb, Stephenson and Winnebago counties. RAMP is a United Way member agency.

Posted Oct. 7, 2014

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