MEDIA CONTACTAlycia Davis, (531) 249-8079, Alycia.Davis@nebraska.gov
Lincoln, Neb. – The month of October is recognized by The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). NDEAM celebrates the contributions and achievements of past and present workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and promotes a supportive and inclusive workplace environment.
According to a survey done at the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire, in 2020 there were a total of 110,657 individuals with disabilities, ages 18-64 years old, living in Nebraska. This study reports that 50.8% of those individuals are currently employed. Although Nebraska has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation at 2.0%, individuals with disabilities are a potential untapped resource for Nebraska businesses.
“All people have the right to live, love, work, play, and pursue their life aspirations," said Tony Green, Director of the Division of Developmental Disabilities. “Employment gives individuals with disabilities an opportunity to be a contributing member of their community while building a sense of purpose and self-worth."
Creating an inclusive workplace is not only beneficial for individuals with IDD but it is also beneficial for companies. Surveys have shown that employing individuals with IDD enhances employee engagement, creates a sense of belonging, enhances innovation, and creates a more accepting and supportive workplace that improves the overall employee experience.
Inclusive workplaces also can lead to better leadership skills and abilities, help businesses meet their talent needs, and strengthen their competitive edge while increasing their overall bottom line. According to a national survey done by National Core Indicators, 54% of individuals with IDD in Nebraska do not have a community job but would like one. Most importantly, employment gives individuals with IDD the opportunity to be a contributing member of their community where they can learn new skills, live full lives, and engage in new opportunities.
By hiring individuals with IDD, a business can expand their talent pool and strengthen their workforce. These individuals have insights into how to serve customers with disabilities and also create a diverse and inclusive workplace where a variety of perspectives are utilized when solving work-related problems. There are benefits to the public, media, and community relations that businesses experience by creating an inclusive workforce.
There are resources available for employers who are looking to create a diverse and inclusive workplace by helping individuals with IDD find meaningful employment in their community.
DHHS partners with Nebraska VR, a program within the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) that helps individuals with IDD learn skills to prepare for a job, find a job, and keep a job while also aiding businesses to recruit, train, and retain employees with disabilities.
"Nebraska VR is proud to be a part of this year's National Disability Employment Awareness Month," said Nebraska VR Director Lindy Foley. “We want to spread the important message that the key to empowering all in the workforce is to build a workforce inclusive of the skills and talents of all individuals, including individuals with disabilities."
Employers who are interested in learning about the resources available to them are encouraged to contact Nebraska VR Business Account Managers and Employment Specialists. Individuals with disabilities who are interested in seeking employment should reach out to their local Nebraska VR Service Office or their Service Coordinator.