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. 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:
- On Oct. 1, the City of Grandview Parks and Recreation Department is hosting the Fifth Annual Kansas City Ability Day/Recreation and Education Fair at “The View” Community Center, 13500 Byars Road, Grandview, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Individuals with disabilities and their families are welcome to attend the event free of charge to learn what Kansas City and Midwest agencies, organizations, and providers can do for them and their loved ones living with disabilities. Ability events include softball, zumba, golf, soccer, adapted bikes, archery, swimming, baseball, track and field, rock climbing, wheel chair basketball, and ballroom dancing. There will be free food and beverages, a vendor fair, and entertainment. For more information, call 816-316-4888.
- 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 2013 No More Stares Annual Conference at the Fulkerson Center, Missouri Western State University, 4525 Downs Drive, St. Joseph, on Oct. 3, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To register, call Midland Empire Resources for Independent Living at 816-279-8558 or 800-MERIL4U or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The 2013 Walk and Rollis 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 on Oct. 5 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, hair chalk, resource vendors for parents, and free food for walkers. For more information, visit PCWSN online or call 816-217-7486.
- Join friends for the 2nd Annual Fall Disability Awareness Event at the Developmental Connections Campus, 1625 East State Highway 76, Branson, on Oct. 12 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.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. For more information, call 417-334-7447.
- The Recreation Council of Greater Kansas City (RCGKC) will host Ability Day 2013 on Oct. 19 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 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. Visit RCGKC for more information and to register, or e-mail Kelly Snider at email@example.com or call 816-784-5200.
- The Springfield Special Education Parent Teacher Association will hold a Resource Fair on Oct. 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at The Arc of the Ozarks, Newport Activity Building, 1501 East Pythian Street, Springfield. This event provides an 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.
- On Oct. 22, Missouri Southern State University (MSSU) will host a free Disability Awareness Fair at the Billingsly Student Center, 3950 East Newman Road, Joplin, from 10 a.m. to noon to help the campus community learn about area organizations that provide resources and services for people with disabilities. For more information, contact Lori Musser by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 417-625-9516.
- On Oct. 24, Sharing Our Strengths(SOS) will hold a training session in Kansas City at the Rose Brooks Center. The event will cover the history of disability rights and parallels with the movement to prevent violence against women, etiquette for working with persons with disabilities, and People First language and philosophy. 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. For questions or to register, e-mail Tina Malinowski at email@example.com, or call 816-523-5550 ext. 247, or visit SOS.
- Disability Mentoring Day will take place on Oct. 28 at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation Conference Center, 4801 Rockhill Road, Kansas City. This event will include sessions on job-seeking skills, including resume assistance and mock interviews, entrepreneurship, and the opportunity to visit with employers and service organizations. Check-in begins at 8 a.m. For more information, contact Brian Ellefson at 913-239-9776.
- Services for Independent Living, Mizzou Diversity, and Ragtag Cinema, 10 Hitt Street, Columbia, will be hosting the film Going Blind in celebration of Disability History and Awareness Month on Oct. 1 at 6 p.m. at no charge to the public.
- Independent Living Resource Center, Inc. (ILRC) and Missouri Rehabilitation and Employment (MORE) Group are hosting an hour-long Business Network Coffee on Oct. 2 beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the ILRC, 1760 Southridge Dr., Jefferson City. All businesses and providers working with persons with disabilities are invited to network and discuss employment for persons with disabilities in Central Missouri. Coffee, tea, and pastries will be provided. RSVP at 573-556-0400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- On Oct. 24, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and MPACT will host the 5th Annual Transition Summit at the Truman State Building, 301 West High Street, Jefferson City, with sign-in beginning at 9 a.m. 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. Sessions are focused on the preparation of youth for transition to post-secondary education, employment, independent living, and community experiences. For more information, visit MPACT or call 800-743-7634.
- In celebration of Disability History and Awareness Month, there will be a spaghetti dinner at the Ninth Street Christian Church, 1009 McKinley, Eldon, on Oct. 26. For more information, contact Laura Baucom at email@example.com or call 573-392-6457.
- The 5th Annual DisABILITY Awareness Conference will take place on Oct. 1 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Truman State University Student Union Building, 100 East Normal, 1110 Student Union Building, Kirksville. The conference is free to attend. The keynote speaker will be Eustacia Cutler, mother of Temple Grandin. For more information, call Chuck Comstock at 660-785-2328 or Deb Wohlers at 660-665-9400.
- The 57th Annual Missouri Council of the Blind Conventionbrings together members and guests for seminars, workshops, and presentations designed to improve the lives of persons who are blind or visually impaired from Oct. 11-13 at the Sheraton Westport Chalet, 191 Westport Plaza, St. Louis. Vendors and exhibitors display the latest technological aids for blind persons, and members display and sell arts and crafts. There will also be an awards banquet and a youth banquet. For more information, visit MCB online or contact the group by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 314-832-7172.
- On Oct. 12, Autism Speaks will hold its annual 5K run and walk at Central Field in Forest Park, 5595 Grand Drive, St. Louis. Walk Now for Autism Speaks is a fun-filled, family-friendly event. Registration and check-in starts at 6:30 a.m., and the race begins at 7:30 a.m. There will be an awards ceremony at 9 a.m. Register online or for more information, e-mail email@example.com.
- Healthcare professionals and survivors of brain injuries and their families are welcome to attend the Brain Injury Association of Missouri (BIA-MO) 9th Annual Statewide Conference at the St. Charles Convention Center, 1 Convention Center Plaza, St. Charles, Oct. 17-19. Sessions held Oct. 17 and 18 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 Oct. 19, a special seminar will be held for survivors of brain injury and their families. To register, visit BIA-MO, or for questions or any other information, contact Jordan Syrigos at Jordan@biamo.org or firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 800-444-6443.
Learn more by exploring these related websites:
- Download “Because We Are Equal to the Task” posters in English and Spanish 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 the Job Accommodations 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.