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Goodwill supports the long-term success of Americans with Disabilities

National Disability Employment Awareness Month is commemorated in October, promoting this year’s theme: ‘Inclusion Drives Innovation’

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, October 12, 2017 — In October, Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma (GICO) acknowledges the continuing employment needs of the country’s men and women with disabilities during National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Promoting this year’s theme, “Inclusion Drives Innovation,” GICO will promote its ongoing efforts to train, place and employ people with disabilities in the central Oklahoma area.

Despite campaigns like NDEAM and legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), workers with disabilities continue to experience challenges in securing gainful employment. Oklahoma ranks 5th highest in the nation for number of residents with disabilities. The employment rate for individuals with disabilities is 36.4 percent, which is less than half of the employment rate for the general population, and of those individuals with disabilities who are employed, they earn three-fourths what the average Oklahoman earns per year.

According to HB 1065, a bill passed at the end of the last session mandating “that Oklahoma Institutions for Higher Education explore creating inclusive, comprehensive programs for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities that meet national recommended standards. …..That Oklahoma IHE’s establish public and private partnerships to find these programs with a goal of self-sufficiency over the next three to five years. That Oklahoma businesses and IHEs work together to create work-based learning experiences that provide opportunities for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

Right here in central Oklahoma, Goodwill’s efforts include the following programs: Supported Employment, Vocational Training, Work Adjustment for high school students, GoodGuides youth mentorships, and Janitorial and Security employment through state contracts.

“We truly believe that inclusion drives innovation, and that inclusive workplaces are better workplaces,” said Mark Barth, President & CEO of Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma. “We hope the citizens of central Oklahoma will support our ongoing employment services efforts by shopping at and donating to GICO centers, and that area businesses will join our efforts to employ people with disabilities, both during National Disability Employment Awareness Month and throughout the year.”

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, which oversees NDEAM, created this year’s theme with input from many of its partner organizations, including those that represent employers, people with disabilities and their families, plus federal, state and local agencies.

“Americans of all abilities must have access to good, safe jobs,” remarked U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “Smart employers know that including different perspectives in problem-solving situations leads to better solutions. Hiring employees with diverse abilities strengthens their business, increases competition, and drives innovation.”

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This content sponsored by Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma.