National Disability Employment Awareness Month
In 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:
- The 2012 Walk and Roll on Saturday, Oct. 6, is a charity walk for children with special needs as well as their parents, family members, caregivers, friends, and anyone who wants to support this cause. All proceeds from this event will benefit Parents of Children with Special Needs' (PCWSN) programs and families locally. Registration begins at 10 a.m. at Penguin Park, North Vivion Road and North Norton Avenue, Kansas City, and the walk starts at noon, with a concert immediately following. There will be many activities for the whole family, including ability activities for all kids, bounce houses, face painting, crafts, an exotic animal show, resource vendors for parents, and free food for walkers. For more information, visit PCWSN online or call 816-217-7486.
- Healthcare professionals and survivors of brain injuries and their families are welcome to attend the 8th Annual Brain Injury Association of Missouri Conference at the St. Charles Convention Center October 4 - 6. Sessions held Thursday, Oct. 4 and Friday, Oct. 5 will focus on topics of interest to healthcare professionals, rehabilitation specialists, physicians, neuropsychologists, mental health professionals, case managers, vocational rehabilitation coordinators, social workers and others who work in the field of brain injury. On Saturday, Oct. 6, a special seminar will be held for survivors of brain injury and their families. To register, visit BIA-MO online, or for questions or any other information, contact Eliza Butcher at email@example.com or 800-444-6443.
- The 56th Annual Missouri Council of the Blind Convention brings together members and guests for seminars, workshops, and presentations designed to improve the lives of persons who are blind or visually impaired from Friday, Oct. 5 to Sunday, Oct. 7 in Jefferson City. Vendors and exhibitors display the latest technological aids for blind persons, members display and sell arts and crafts, an awards banquet, and a youth banquet. For more information, visit MCB online or contact the group by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 314-832-7172.
- Join friends for the 1st Annual Fall Disability Awareness Event in Branson on Saturday, Oct. 6, beginning at 10 a.m. There will be free events for families with children with disabilities, including a bounce house, games, prizes, entertainment, food, and fun. Also featured will be informational booths about services available to residents with disabilities in Taney, Stone, and Ozark counties. This event will be held at Developmental Connections Campus, 1629 East State Highway 76. For more information, contact Kim Connell at email@example.com or 417-334-7447.
- The Missouri Family to Family Resource Center hosts monthly webinars about topics that are important to people with disabilities and their families as well as professionals in the disability field. This month, the topic is Charting the Life Course: Focusing on Housing. Participants can learn about the current state of housing for people with developmental disabilities in Missouri and hear about resources Missourians can access to assist them in finding a home they love. Join MOF2F live online on October 8 from noon to 1 p.m. or watch the presentation in-person throughout the month at one of their regional offices. To find a host office or for more information, contact the Institute for Human Development by visiting its office at 215 West Pershing, Kansas City, by calling 816-235-1763 or 800-444-0821, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The 4th Annual MPACT Transition Summit will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 9, starting at 9 a.m., in Jefferson City. The Summit is a one-day learning experience designed for students who have disabilities, special education transition personnel and student teams, family members, case managers, vocational rehabilitation counselors, and Centers for Independent Living personnel. Summit sessions are focused on the preparation of youth for transition to post-secondary education, employment, independent living, and community experiences. For information, call 800-743-7634 or email email@example.com. The event will be held at the Truman Building, 301 West High Street.
- On October 17, Sharing Our Strengths (SOS) will hold a training session in Kansas City. SOS is a state-wide peer support network, matching parents who are raising children with disabilities or special health care needs to other parents. Mentors offer emotional support and share experiences, practical information, and resources. The only special skills are a willingness to listen and share, and the time to make a few phone calls or send a few e-mails. For questions or to register, email Susan Bird at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 816-235-5337, or visit SOS online.
- The Springfield Special Education Parent Teacher Association will hold a Resource Fair on Saturday, Oct. 20, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Arc of the Ozarks, Newport Activity Building, 1501 East Pythian Street, Springfield. The SEPTA Resource Fair is a great opportunity for members of the disability community to make personal connections by networking and sharing information about their organizations with each other, the general public, and with those they serve. To register or for additional information, visit SEPTA online.
- The Recreation Council of Greater Kansas City (RCGKC) will host Ability Day 2012 on October 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Southeast Community Center, 4201 East 63rd Street, Kansas City. Events include archery, wheelchair basketball, softball, judo, pottery, and much more. There will be free food and beverages, a vendor fair, and entertainment featuring DJ EJO. Visit RCGKC for more information and to register, or call Kelly Snider at 816-784-5200.
- Join No More Stares, an organization that strives to positively affect attitudes as people with and without disabilities come together to share life experiences and provide disability-related information and insights to the community at large, for the 2012 No More Stares Annual Conference in St. Joseph on October 25 at the Holiday Inn Conference Center, 102 South 3rd Street. To register, call Midland Empire Resources for Independent Living at 816-279-8558 or 800-MERIL4U or email email@example.com.
Learn more by exploring these related websites:
- Download “Profit by Investing in Workers with Disabilities” posters to display at your worksite during October for National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides valuable information about disability discrimination, pre- and post-offer medical exams, and employer responsibility under the ADA.
- Discover answers to questions about workplace accommodations with expert advice from Job Accommodation Network.
- U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy provides answers to questions about recruiting, hiring, and retaining people with disabilities, as well as the many talents and contributions that employees with disabilities can bring to the workplace.
- Access in-depth classroom curriculum for Disability History and Awareness Month.
- Watch the signing ceremony of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act, which occurred on July 26, 1990, on the White House South Lawn, or read the important 2008 law amending the ADA.