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. The theme for 2013 is "Because We Are EQUAL to the Task." The purpose of NDEA Month is to educate all people about disability employment issues and to celebrate the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. These employees are often highly-motivated individuals and generally have higher retention rates than workers without disabilities, which means reduced recruitment and training costs for employers.

Workplaces welcoming of the talents of all people, including those with disabilities, are a critical part of our state's efforts to build an inclusive community and strong economy. 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, both to acknowledge this understanding and to encourage school districts to provide instruction on the contributions of persons with disabilities during this time of recognition.

An estimated 20 percent of U.S. citizens—including 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 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 in regard to your disability.

Throughout 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 display on the second and fourth floors of the Truman Building, 301 West High Street, Jefferson City, and also spotlights outstanding Missourians with disabilities on its website. The Council developed a Resource Guide for Missouri on Disability History and Awareness and 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 promotes disability awareness and proper employment practices, as 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, which 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, a private, nonresidential, nonprofit corporation providing a full range of community-based services for people with disabilities. Paraquad, located in the St. Louis area, is one of the oldest Centers for Independent Living in the country and has a multitude of resources and services available.

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

Western Missouri

Mid-Missouri

Eastern Missouri

Learn more by exploring these related websites: