October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month! This year, we celebrate the 71st anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. This is a wonderful opportunity to recognize the ways individuals with disabilities strengthen our workforce, our communities, and our country.
At dLCV, we are so fortunate to be able to have many coworkers who have disabilities or who have family members with disabilities. We have daily testimony of how valuable this resource really is.
Many disabled Americans make unique contributions to the economy, but this should not be “news.” Our history is full of examples of valuable contributions. For example, Thomas Edison the inventor of the light bulb, was severally hearing-impaired.
Around the age of 12, Edison lost almost all his hearing, possibly because of scarlet fever. His disability did not discourage him. In his 84 years, Edison acquired 1,093 patents. His laboratory in Menlo Park, N.J., was often called the invention factory. It was there that he invented the phonograph, motivated by the machine’s ability to play material useful to blind individuals.
Americans with disabilities make up almost 20% of our population. Sadly, people with disabilities are unemployed at a rate that is twice that of people without disabilities. Most of those Americans with disabilities want to work and with some accommodation (many times the accommodation costing employers less than $500 per employee) can be creative and productive employees. Many employers who pay for accommodations are eligible for tax credits and tax deductions.
As we celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month, let us continue to work to remove obstacles to employment, so every American has a chance to be employed.
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