Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Oct. 1 that the month of October will be Disability Employment Awareness Month in the state of Florida.
Industrial engineering student Austin Williams wears a cochlear implant and hopes the governor’s announcement is coming from a genuine place.
“I don’t really pay attention to politics that much,” Williams said. “But if it’s actually serving the community then I support it. The government assists in a way because if you apply for a federal government job with a disability you still have a chance of getting it but if bringing awareness has a real effect, I’ll support it.”
According to respectability.org, the U.S has more than 20 million people who are both working age and with disabilities looking for employment and only seven million were employed. As of 2019, Florida gained more than 23,000 jobs for those with disabilities and ranked 39 in the country for the disability employment rate.
CeDAR, which is the Center for Disability Access and Resources on FAMU’s campus, focuses on accommodating and advocating for those with physical, psychological and learning disabilities.
Director of CeDAR, Deborah Sullivan, explains why it’s important to show awareness for those with disabilities who are seeking employment as well as resources provided by the government thus far.
“I think that any awareness we can bring to the plight of students with disabilities and their desire to gain employment is always important,” Sullivan said. “There is a federal program called the workforce recruitment program which FAMU participates in, and it is a database of all the institutions, businesses, and organizations that receive federal funding and must consider persons with disabilities for positions and internships.”
Both the Agency for Persons with Disabilities and Vocational Rehabilitation have assisted more than 5,000 individuals with disabilities on gaining and maintaining employment int the state of Florida, according to careersourceflorida.com.
The Florida Endowment Foundation for Vocational Rehabilitation, otherwise known as the Able Trust, devotes its resources to work with employers and community organizations to identify issues that could affect those with disabilities to receive employment.
On Oct, 20, the Agency of Persons with Disabilities will host Disability Mentoring Day for students who are looking for job shadowing, leadership, public service, and more. DMD is held on the third Wednesday of every October to assist those with developmental disabilities like autism, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and Prader-Willi syndrome.
For more information on how Disability Employment Awareness month is being recognized visit apd.myflorida.com and for more information on CeDAR visit famu.edu