LETTER FROM THE GOVERNOR
By Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi
Gov. Greg Abbott has declared October as Disability Employment Awareness Month in Texas.
“The often-used slogan for the Lone Star State’s approach to commerce is that ‘Texas is wide open for business,’” Abbott announced. “This openness and dedication to inclusivity has been a major part of the foundation for our strong economy. Thus, it is crucial for this diversity to extend beyond our business climate to the hardworking men and women who make up the indomitable Texas workforce.”
Abbott celebrates people with disabilities by acknowledging them as equals to people without disabilities. He invites employers and the public to think the same through the education October will bring.
Abbott also proclaims, “As we work toward these goals, our economy will be made ever stronger by the diversity and full participation of workers with disabilities.”
This proclamation follows a great year of job growth among people with disabilities living in the Lone Star State. 7,736 people with disabilities entered Texas’ workforce last year.
Meanwhile, President Trump issued a statement saying that his administration “reaffirms its support for all the employers who hire Americans with disabilities, providing opportunities for success. It is important that all our nation’s job seekers and creators are both empowered and motivated to partake in our booming economy and apply their unique talents and skills to the growing workforce.”
He added, “We recognize the achievements of Americans with disabilities whose contributions in the workforce help ensure the strength of our nation. We also renew our commitment to creating an environment of opportunity for all Americans and educating people about disability employment issues.”
An annual celebration, National Disability Employment Awareness Month is dedicated to raising awareness about disability employment issues and celebrating the incredible contributions of people with disabilities. In total, there are more than 1,653,862 working-age people with disabilities living in Texas. That total includes people who are blind or deaf or have other visible conditions such as spinal cord injuries, as well as people with invisible disabilities including learning disabilities, mental health or Autism.
Of that number, 644,181 have jobs. That means the Lone Star State has a 39 percent disability employment rate. According to RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that works to fight stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities, Texas ranks 22nd compared to the rest of the country.
“Our nation was founded on the principle that anyone who works hard should be able to get ahead in life,” said Steve Bartlett, the chair of RespectAbility.
Bartlett, a former U.S. Congressman, the former mayor of Dallas and a principal author of the Americans with Disabilities Act went on to say, “People with disabilities deserve equal opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence just like anyone else.”
When people with disabilities are given access to the workforce, both the individual and the employers benefit. People with disabilities can bring new talents and ways of thinking to the table. “People with disabilities bring unique characteristics and talents to Texas’ economy,” adds Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility. “People with disabilities can work in hospitals and hotels, or apply their talents to develop computer software and website design. There are no limits to what they can do.”
More information can be found at diversity.utexas.edu/disability/2018/10/daim18.