National Disability Employment Awareness Month Highlights People with Disabilities’ Contributions to Economy

To view the Governor’s proclamation in full, click here.

For immediate release
Date: October 1, 2019
Contact: Colorado Department of Labor and Employment
Amelia Tenne at 303.318.8004 or Cher Haavind at 303.318.8003

(Denver) -- To highlight the current and potential contributions of Coloradans with disabilities to the state’s economy, Governor Jared Polis has issued a proclamation declaring October as Disability Employment Awareness Month. This year’s theme is “The Right Talent, Right Now,” chosen to emphasize the essential role of people with disabilities in the workforce.

During Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Division of Vocational Rehab will present the third annual Shining Stars of VR Awards, honoring the achievements of workers with disabilities as well as celebrating businesses and advocates who are committed to increasing the employment of individuals with disabilities. These remarkable individuals will be recognized in a ceremony at the State Capital later in October. 

Along with partner organizations, DVR will also be hosting a couple of events in the coming weeks, including:

  • 2019 Hiring Abilities Career Fair on October 16 from 12:00 pm to 3:30 pm. Employers can connect with job seekers who have disabilities. Register for the event here.
  • Celebration of Disabilities in Employment and Resource Fair on October 30 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm at Adams County Workforce Center, 11860 N. Pecos St., Westminster, CO 80234. 

The Governor’s proclamation is meant to highlight the employment contributions from the 21 percent of Coloradans who have some type of disability. Despite comprising a large portion of Colorado’s adult population, people with disabilities who want to work face many barriers to employment.

“I hope Disability Employment Awareness Month inspires the state’s employers, businesses, and industries to recognize the talents and skills of Coloradans with disabilities,” said Joe Barela, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE). 

Barela also noted that, generally speaking, people with disabilities experience an unfounded stigma when it comes to employment. He also emphasized that they also often have high levels of poverty, a factor that lowers people with disabilities' chances of getting and keeping a job. 

His observations are borne out by statistics provided by the University of New Hampshire’s Institute on Disability, which notes that 26 percent of people with disabilities live in poverty, compared to approximately 11 percent of the able-bodied population. The same report found that only 37 percent of people with disabilities are employed, nearly half the employment rate of people who are able-bodied (77.2 percent).

To view the Governor’s proclamation in full, click here.

To help address the barriers people with disabilities face, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) helps employers understand the many skills and unique talents people with disabilities can bring to an organization. They also provide people with disabilities one-on-one job counseling, interpreter services, assistive technology, transportation, and more