National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) aims to enhance consciousness about disability employment issues and celebrate the many contributions of workers with disabilities. In honor of NDEAM, held annually in October, Sharon McLennon Wier, PhD, Director of Disability Services, Berkeley College, has shared insights as to why individuals with disabilities experience high rates of underemployment and frustration, as well as the impact of employing people with disabilities.
“The greatest barrier to employment for people with disabilities is fear of disability itself,” said Dr. McLennon Wier. “Persons with and without disabilities can identify with this feeling. What is important to remember is that people with disabilities have the same hopes and dreams that people without disabilities have.”
According to the last U.S. census, approximately 54 million people have a documented disability. As the population grows older, advances in medical treatments to cure or stabilize illnesses, and overall immigration patterns, have created more individuals with disabilities.
“Contributing to society and finding meaningful work can be a defining characteristic for physical, psychological and emotional wellbeing for all people,” said Dr. McLennon Wier. “Unfortunately, because of discrimination, prejudice, and stigma from people without disabilities toward people with disabilities, people with disabilities have the highest unemployment rate in the United States.”
As part of Dr. McLennon Wier’s initiative to enhance disability awareness in the workforce, the Office of Disability Services at Berkeley College will host a special panel discussion at the campus located at 12 East 41st in Manhattan, NY, on October 18, 2017. The discussion aims to highlight individuals with learning, physical and mental health disabilities who succeed in a range of professional fields, including legal studies, journalism, human services, and workplace management. Titled “Work Matters for All: Personal Stories of Disability and Professional Success,” the event will feature panelists sharing their unique achievements and challenges, resources and support systems, and advice for developing professional skills and pursuing dream-worthy career goals. Click here for more information about “Work Matters for All: Personal Stories of Disability and Professional Success.”