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Governor Hogan Declares October Disability Employment Awareness Month

Governor Larry Hogan has declared October Disability Employment Awareness Month in Maryland. Maryland joins numerous states and the federal government in using the month to recognize the immense contributions of workers with disabilities and the increased economic strength gained through a diverse workforce. Disability Employment Awareness Month is an important opportunity to create greater awareness of the skills individuals with disabilities bring to employers in every sector of Maryland's economy.
"Expanding employment opportunities and improving quality of life for all Marylanders, including those with disabilities, is one of our top priorities," said Governor Hogan. "People with disabilities are often underrepresented in our workforce, and it's essential that we work to make employers aware of the valuable skills and unique contributions these Marylanders make to our economy."
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Maryland Awarded Federal Grants to Expand Disability Employment

Governor Hogan and his administration continue to prioritize a strong and healthy economy for the entire State of Maryland.  The Maryland Department of Disabilities is proud to have played a role in several recent advancements achieved through collaboration among State agencies and private partnerships which will provide additional resources to advance employment of those with disabilities in our State. 
The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR) was recently awarded a $2.5 million federal grant to improve employment opportunities for people with the most significant disabilities. This grant will work with two local workforce development areas, Montgomery and Anne Arundel Counties, to pilot and develop career sector strategies for individuals with disabilities and to develop local integrated resource teams in those areas.  These county resources will serve as future models for other jurisdictions.

The Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) was also selected to receive a $7.5 million federal grant under the Disability Innovation Fund-Transition Systems Program. DORS will partner with stakeholders to implement a comprehensive project featuring work-based learning to improve career outcomes for youth with disabilities.

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Secretary Beatty Brings Disability Employment Discussion On The Road

Maryland Department of Disabilities Secretary, Carol Beatty, was pleased to join Governor Hogan on October 13th for a town hall style Cabinet meeting in Hagerstown.  During the meeting, the Cabinet provided departmental updates and Governor Hogan personally recognized several outstanding members of the western Maryland community.  One of these outstanding Marylanders was Patrick Speaker.  Mr. Speaker is a Special Olympics athlete from Washington County who will be representing Maryland in Austria during the 2017 Special Olympics World Games.
Following the meeting, Governor Hogan, Lieutenant Governor Rutherford, and members of the Cabinet spent the afternoon in western Maryland visiting sites throughout the community. Secretary Beatty visited The Arc of Washington County to discuss the status of employment for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Maryland. She was joined by local employers who have partnered with the Arc of Washington County to expand community based employment options for this important employee base in the western region. The roundtable discussion addressed barriers encountered by those with disabilities in the workforce as well as best practices of those who have been successful securing community employment.
Hiring Workers with Disabilities
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Makes Good Business Sense

One of the biggest challenges businesses consistently face is the shortage of talented and skilled employees. Individuals with disabilities, however, remain a significantly untapped workforce while representing the single largest minority group seeking employment in today's marketplace. Unemployment of people with disabilities is twice the national unemployment rate, yet many of these workers have the skills that your business values. 

Employees with disabilities also represent a tremendous customer base; one billion people globally report having a disability, and people with disabilities in the U.S. control an aggregate annual income of more than $1 trillion. Including individuals with disabilities in your workforce can give your organization an inside advantage in marketing and outreach to this large consumer base. 

In addition to the convincing facts supporting the business case for a diverse workforce, Maryland boasts countless success stories where employers reached out to these workers and experienced significant gains.  Acadia Windows & Doors LLC has been producing, manufacturing, and selling windows and doors for over 70 years. In 1947, shortly after the end of World War II, the company was founded in a garage on route 40 in Rosedale. Since that time, the company continues a solid growth pattern in aluminum products while always looking for new innovative ways to bring quality products to the customer. One of the valued innovations harnessed by Acadia Windows and Doors was the discovery that a diverse workforce, which included individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, strengthened their business model. 
Hear directly from Acadia Windows & Doors in the below video.  You can also read further about the Business Case for Hiring Individuals with Disabilities on the Maryland Department of Disabilities website at this link.
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Are you ready to get started hiring or getting hired? Check out the Job  Accommodation Toolkit for employers and job seekers at this link.  

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There are many ways to get involved! Maryland PROMISE is a federal        grant working to improve outcomes for youth who receive federal benefits   by providing summer work experiences.  PROMISE is currently seeking      
employers for summer placements.  Click here to request information or see the MD PROMISE website at for further details.
An Employer's Story: Acadia Windows