Disability Employment Awareness Month:
A Time for Action
Governor Larry Hogan signed Executive Order 01.01.2017.23 last week declaring every October Disability Employment Awareness Month in Maryland. The month will be used to highlight the immense contributions made by workers with disabilities and the increased economic strength gained through an inclusive workforce.
To highlight this newly designated month, Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford presented citations to several employers who have a history of hiring an inclusive workforce.
Chouquette Chocolates & Confections,
Acadia Windows & Doors
Biggs & Featherbelle were honored as examples of small businesses in Maryland who practice inclusive hiring.
Mid-Atlantic Interpreting Group is a deaf owned company which was also recognized as an example of the diversity of Maryland's business community and the economic strength gained when those with disabilities are both employees and employers.
"Disability Employment Awareness Month is an opportunity to create greater recognition of the skills people with disabilities bring to employers and highlight efforts to expand employment opportunities for all Marylanders," said Lt. Governor Rutherford. "Businesses and employers who value an inclusive workforce benefit from this practice and, in turn, create a more resilient and innovative economic climate in Maryland."
Governor Hogan's order takes Disability Employment Awareness Month a step further than the proclamations issued in the past. The executive order not only designates October Disability Employment Awareness month in Maryland this year and every year moving forward, but it directs state government to take specific action steps to improve awareness of both the need for inclusive hiring in our state and the need for supportive accessible workplaces for those with disabilities.
Under the executive order, the Maryland Department of Disabilities will initiate a public awareness campaign and partner with local jurisdictions to further strengthen this vital workforce. Additionally, the campaign will provide information to potential employers on the benefits of hiring workers with disabilities.
The executive order also establishes an accessibility coordinator within state government. The accessibility coordinator will provide technical assistance to ensure state agency communication efforts adhere to accessibility best practices in an efficient and cost effective manner. This technical assistance will also allow state government to continue as a model employer for those with disabilities and offer support for Maryland businesses hoping to strengthen their communication accessibility.
"We know that an inclusive workforce is a strong workforce," said Department of Disabilities Secretary Carol A. Beatty. "I am very proud Maryland is able to highlight the importance of a business community which reflects the diversity of our state and support those with disabilities as they seek and retain successful employment. I am grateful to Governor Hogan for acknowledging the need for more attention to this very important issue and for planning effective action which will lead to increased employment opportunities, benefiting our economy and ultimately all Marylanders."