National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Disabled WorkerIn October, we recognize the significant contributions that persons with disabilities make in the workplace as part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Workers with disabilities are often highly-motivated performers and generally have much higher retention rates than workers without disabilities, which means reduced recruitment and training costs for employers.

In July 2011, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon established each October as Missouri Disability History and Awareness Month with the signing into law of House Bills 555 and 648. In addition, the law encourages school districts to direct their schools to provide disability instruction during this time. "Teaching children in K-12 about disability not only begins to teach them acceptance of people with disabilities, but also helps them see beyond the disability to their capacities and opportunities to contribute… they're moving toward acceptance of all people within our culture," said Colleen Starkloff, director of education and training at the Starkloff Disability Institute in St. Louis.

An estimated 20 percent of U.S. citizens -- and nearly one million Missourians -- have a medical condition that qualifies as a physical or mental disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA). These conditions often are not always obvious to others and can include common ailments like high blood pressure, diabetes, hepatitis, and epilepsy. If a major life activity, such as a walking, balancing, seeing, hearing, breathing, or working, is substantially limited due to your medical condition, you are protected from workplace discrimination due to your disability.

Through October, the Governor’s Council on Disability, which promotes full participation and inclusion of Missourians with disabilities in all aspects of community life, sponsors a Disability History and Awareness Month display on the second and fourth floors of the Truman Building, 301 W. High Street, Jefferson City, and also spotlights outstanding Missourians with disabilities on its website. The Council has developed a Resource Guide for Missouri on Disability History and Awareness and has created a poster to honor and celebrate October as Disability History and Awareness Month throughout Missouri, which you can print off to display proudly.

The Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations is promoting disability awareness month and proper employment practices because Missouri works best when all of its citizens are able to take advantage of public accommodations and employment opportunities. The Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR) is an independent Commission housed within the Department of Labor, and the MCHR enforces the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA). The MHRA prohibits disability discrimination in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation. If you believe you are a person with a disability who has been discriminated against, contact MCHR at 877-781-4236 or take this assessment to determine if you are eligible to file a complaint with the Commission. To find out more about how employers can profit by investing in workers with disabilities, contact The Whole Person.

Celebrate Disability Awareness Month by participating in activities around the state:

Learn more by exploring these related websites: