PRINCETON — Gateway Services Inc. announced its participation in National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an annual awareness campaign that takes place each October.
The purpose of National Disability Employment Awareness Month is to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. This year’s theme is “America’s Workforce: Empowering All.”
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.
“Americans of all abilities must have access to good, safe jobs,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta said. “Smart employers know that including different perspectives in problem-solving situations leads to better solutions. Hiring employees with diverse abilities strengthens their business, increases competition, and drives innovation.”
Reflecting this year’s theme, Gateway Services will be engaging in a variety of activities to educate everyone on disability employment issues and their commitment to an inclusive work culture.
Throughout the month, Gateway will be sharing information on its Facebook page, along with a public “thank you” to area employers in local newspapers. A celebration is also being planned for individuals who obtained or maintained employment in the past year.
Finally, employers will be acknowledged for providing community employment opportunities or volunteer experiences for individuals.
Over the past year, 45 businesses or organizations partnered with the Community Employment Services (CES) program at Gateway Services.
“We are proud to be a part of this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month,” Tracy Wright, CEO of Gateway Services, said.
“We want to spread the important message that we value all perspectives, and especially those of individuals with disabilities,” Wright said.
Gateway’s CES program, in collaboration with the Department of Human Services Division of Rehabilitation, provides services to individuals with a variety of disabilities from Bureau, Marshall and Putnam counties, offering a number of strategies and opportunities for employment.
From resume building or developing interview skills to the actual job search, the CES program covers all aspects involved with successfully obtaining employment. If needed, Gateway also provides a job coach while the employee becomes acclimated to his or her new position.
“Individuals involved in the CES program have a wide range of disabilities, from intellectual or learning disabilities that have been lifelong, to physical and medical disabilities that have occurred later in life,” Wright said.
“The philosophy of the program is that everyone who has a desire to work should be given that opportunity to find a meaningful job suited to his or her interests and abilities.”
Gateway’s CES program has assisted individuals in finding jobs in a variety of occupations including janitorial, retail, office work, and maintenance.
Employers and employees in all industries can learn more about disability awareness and ways they can promote the message by visiting www.dol.gov/ndeam.
For more information about Gateway’s CES program, contact Michael Brown, CES supervisor, at 815-875-4548, ext. 255.