West-Central Independent Living Solutions today 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.
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.
This year, the National Disability Employment Awareness Month theme is “Because We Are EQUAL to the Task.” Reflecting this year’s theme, throughout the month, WILS will be engaging in a variety of activities to educate its employees, consumers and the community on disability employment issues and the role they play in fostering a disability-friendly work culture. These efforts include participation in National Disability Awareness Week activities at the University of Central Missouri, a front-page article in the WILS newsletter, THE WILS WAY, and appearances and presentations at several high school transitions fairs throughout WILS’ six-county service area that includes Benton, Henry, Johnson, Lafayette, Pettis and Saline counties.
WILS is proud to be a part of this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month,” said Kathy Kay, WILS Executive Director. “We want to spread the important message that a strong workforce is one inclusive of the skills and talents of all individuals, including individuals with disabilities. WILS is more concerned with what a person can do, rather than what they cannot.” As an organization, WILS embodies this concept: 51% of WILS’ staff and Board of Directors has a significant disability. All are contributing, capable members of the workforce and society.
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 messages — during October and throughout the year — by visiting the ODEP website at www.dol.gov/odep/.