An Open Letter to All,
October is Disability Employment Month. We celebrate the employment successes of people with disabilities, have respect for people’s contributions, and at the same time know we must expand and improve employment outcomes in communities across the country.
We know that disability and poverty are stubbornly intertwined. We know that we can do better to create and support decent jobs for people with disabilities. When asked, jobs are always one of the top three goals of most people with disabilities. We know that we have amazing examples of successes in companies large and small.
What we need is a sustained national strategy that engages all of us.
One part of a nationwide approach to employment of people with disabilities is the Final Report and Recommendations of the Department of Labor Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities (ACICIEID). This Committee, created by the 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, completed its work and delivered its Final Report (see link below) to The Honorable Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez, and to Congress, on September 15, 2016. This report emphasizes the need to Build Capacity to deliver meaningful employment in communities nationwide. I was honored to be appointed to this committee and to serve as committee chair. This amazing committee of 18 citizen members, and seven federal official members from five departments of the federal government, represented a broad spectrum of perspectives, knowledge and expertise. All shared a commitment to engage the process and develop far reaching recommendations for implementation nationwide, and within states. The work of this committee played out in full public view, and was informed by a broad range of public input, as well as individual stories and expert input.
I have argued that we have many of the tools we need to assist people with disabilities to acquire and keep jobs of their choosing. We need a broad implementation approach to using these tools in communities, large and small, across the nation.
And, back to the intertwined nature of poverty and disability. In community action programs, and local efforts to address issues of poverty, there is a rich discussion about the human need for Resources, Relationships and Meaning in life, for all of us. Competitive Integrated Employment for people with disabilities can bring a measure of all three. It’s National Disability Employment Month, let’s make it a Decade.
Let’s do this. People are waiting.
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