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Nationality Disability Employment Awareness Month

Bringing Awareness to Ability

by Briana Nahoul, Career Development Coordinator CLE Costa Mesa

National Disablility Employment Awareness MonthThis month, I would like to open a discussion to our beloved CLE family about National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Observed in October, NDEAM is a nationwide campaign that celebrates the skills and diverse talents individuals with exceptionalities bring to the workplace. This is a time to rejoice in all that has been accomplished and to acknowledge how far we have come, but it is also a time to reflect on how far we still have to go. When I read the words Disability Employment Awareness Month, the two words that immediately stand out to me are Awareness and Ability. Awareness breeds understanding, and allows us the capability to see things through a new lens. This is precisely why this month is so important. It places the spotlight on the ability of our population.

As the Career Development Coordinator to our Costa Mesa center, this month and what it stands for is very close to my heart. What an honor and privilege it is to walk beside our students through this journey of their professional development. For us as CLE staff, there is so much joy in all of the details. These precious moments include helping a student select their interview outfit, running through practice questions, helping them perfect their resume, and if we’re very lucky…driving them to the interview and having the chance to give them one last pep talk. We celebrate with them when they get the job, and we provide comfort and perspective when they do not. Regardless of the outcome, these experiences and opportunities for growth are priceless.

Often times I reflect on how fortunate these prospective employers would be to have one of our CLE students as their employee, and even more importantly to have the pleasure of knowing them as a human being. CLE Career DevelopmentGoing into a job interview, it is easy to get caught up in the mentality that it is a one-way street, and that we would be lucky to be offered the position. I find myself telling our students over and again, to remember that these employers would be incredibly lucky to have them too, and I mean it every time.

The fact is, each of our students is individual and unique. They possess their own talents and gifts, some of which are innate and cannot be taught. Honesty, integrity, resilience, an unwavering genuine nature, and courage to be oneself are just some of the traits I have observed while working with our students. Each time a local business has the opportunity to meet our CLE students, whether it’s through a weekly volunteer opportunity, paid employment, or a Career Enrichment tour, the positive feedback is overwhelming. Each week, I witness our students enter establishments and make these environments a better, brighter, and more joyful place. I want every employer to know that when they welcome one of our students on board, their work environment will be enriched.

The theme for this month’s NDEAM is Inclusion Works. Not only does it work, but it benefits businesses in a very real and tangible way.

“By fostering a culture that embraces individual differences, including disabilities, businesses profit by having a wider variety of tools to confront challenges,” said Jennifer Sheehy, deputy assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy. “Our nation’s most successful companies proudly make inclusion a core value. They know that inclusion works. It works for workers, it works for employers, it works for opportunity, and it works for innovation.”

Fortunately, there are many employers both nationally and globally who recognize the many benefits of hiring individuals with exceptionalities. Below are just a few of the facts and statistics that support what we already know about employing people with exceptionalities:

    National Disability Employment Awareness

  • According to a University of Massachusetts survey, 92% of the American public view companies that hire people with disabilities more favorably than those that do not; 87% of the public also agree that they would prefer to give their business to companies that hire people with disabilities
  • A diverse workforce gives you a competitive advantage by adding new ideas, viewpoints and approaches to solving business challenges
  • Making accommodations for people with disabilities is usually easy and inexpensive, and can actually carry a return
  • Retention rates among people with disabilities are higher, thus reducing training costs
  • The rate of sick days and absences is lower amongst employees with disabilities, increasing overall productivity
  • Private-sector businesses that make structural adaptations or other accommodations for employees or customers with disabilities may be eligible for tax incentives.
  • (Sources: United States Department of Labor, Think Beyond the Label, Forbes)

Employees with exceptionalities bring unique life experiences, innovative ideas, creativity, wisdom, and understanding that transform a workplace and enhance services and products. This month is about ABILITY. It is about showing employers the ABILITY of our population, and all of the countless ways individuals with exceptionalities enrich the workplace. It is the ABILITY that I want prospective employers to be aware of. It is the ABILITY that they will see when they give our students a chance. This month and every month, let us continue to spread awareness about the ability of our students.

Newsletter Articles – October 2016

Follow along as Kati Strong takes us through a day as a CLE Job Coach.

CLE Denver - G with Paycheck

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average tenure of a young employee with a company is approximately 2 years. This current trend in workplace philosophy of the “grass is always greener” creates a common challenge for employers to obtain and retain reliable, long-term help. Employers are often left scrambling to hire new workers; meanwhile there is a large population of capable and willing employees that have not been fully tapped into.

Zach at CLE Rockville - mock interview

by Darchelle M. Garner and Ajeenah Watts, Career Development Tutors, CLE Rockville
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Wilson at CLE Davie

Not all disabilities are visible, in fact most are not. So the question of disclosing one’s disability becomes an issue when you have a non-visible disability. This is especially true when looking to become employed. What, if anything, do I tell my employer? Our thoughts on this subject are guided by two basic principles.

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