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Recognizing National Disability Employment Awareness Month

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PRINCETON — With October being National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Gateway Services Inc. of Princeton is stepping out to help bring awareness to the campaign.

Michael Brown, who is the Community Employment Service supervisor at Gateway Services, explained it’s important to recognize the valuable contribution people with disabilities can provide for local employers.

While it benefits the community in several ways, it also allows the population of people to get out and be a part of their community.

“It makes for a more integrated society,” Brown said.

According to a Gateway Services press release, the history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month traces back to 1945, when congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.

In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Gateway Services provide Community Employment Service programs, which helps give individuals with disabilities tools to attain and retain employment in the community.

Individuals are taken step-by-step through the job search process. Once they are employed, a job coach may be provided if needed to guide them to complete daily tasks until the job coach is no longer needed.

Brown explained clients who participate in the programs come from all ends of the spectrum. Some are kids who have just graduated high school and are coming face-to-face with the basics, such as creating resumes and prepping for first interviews to individuals who have obtained specialty licenses and are just needing assistance with finding their niche.

“This population of people who find employment are always very dedicated to their jobs. They take the job very seriously and tend to be in the position a long, long time,” Brown said. “It’s a win-win situation for the employer and employee as long as it’s the right fit. The employer will gain just as much satisfaction as the employee.”

Employers and employees in all industries can learn more about how to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month and ways they can promote its message by visiting the ODEP website at www.dol.gov/odep/.

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