October has been National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Travis M. works as a warehouse clerk for Diversified imagination Engineered. Ieshia Q. is employed in Briarcrest Christian School’s cafeteria, while Brian J. stocks vending machines in the main U.S. post office downtown and the bulk mail center on Elvis Presley Blvd.
They are three shining examples of what many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can accomplish, given some training and the chance by an employer. “Smart employers know that including different perspectives in problem-solving situations leads to better solutions,” Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta said recently. “Hiring employees with diverse abilities strengthens their business, increases competition, and drives innovation. “

Acosta has proclaimed October as National Employment Awareness Month, with “Inclusion Drives Innovation” being its theme. In Memphis, The Arc Mid-South tutors clients with disabilities in GED preparation, job readiness, and basic life skills to empower them to achieve self sufficiency.  Travis, Ieshia and Brian are all program graduates.




October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month


2016 Employee of The Year recipients Jakeena Boyce and Derek Mathews

Jakeena Boyce and Derek Mathews were named Employee of the Year at The Arc Mid-South's recent Awards & Benefit Gala. They work at rival delivery companies, but share a yearning to work hard and achieve their full potential.

Fortunately, companies such as FedEx and UPS are reaching out to hire individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. PricewaterhouseCoopers is another global player that has embraced disability inclusion.

"Why are we doing this? There is some social consciousness; it's a great thing to do. But I've got to tell you it's much more of a business imperative," Brad Hopton, a tax partner at PwC, told The Washington Post recently. "For us it's all about the talent - bringing in talent and harnessing the talent that we have to take that to our clients. We need that diversity of thought, that diversity of approach, to take to our clients to answer their questions."

The article noted, though, that unemployment remains high among adults with autism. "Until we as a society... see that a nation that has a 70 percent unemployment rate for people with autism and people with disabilities is a problem, it ain't going to work," Scott Badesch, president of the Autism Society, told the Post. "We have to make a critical commitment that this is wrong." 
The Arc is doing its best to alleviate the problem by connecting employers to talented individuals with I/DD who want to work. Its Arc@work program assists with all aspects of the employment process - from recruiting and interviewing to on-boarding and retention support.

October was proclaimed National Disability Employment Awareness Month in Memphis. Mayor Jim Strickland's announcement noted that Americans with disabilities are entitled to the same rights and freedoms as any other citizen, and that they bring lasting contributions and diverse skills to the workforce.

For more information about The Arc Mid-South's CDJP program or to find out how to enroll your loved one, contact us at (901) 327-2473.




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