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October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

UH Manoa Center on Disability Studies sponsors efforts to promote career exploration and increased employment opportunities for Hawaii students and job seekers

University of Hawaiʻi
M.E. Conway, (808) 956-3339
National Technical Assistance Center
Pollie Bith, (808) 956-5048
National Technical Assistance Center
Posted: Oct 10, 2003

Census data shows that more than 230,000 of the 56 million Americans with disabilities live in Hawaiʻi—approximately 19 percent of the state‘s population—yet less than one-third of those who can work are actually employed. In an effort to promote career exploration and increased employment opportunities for Hawaiʻi‘s students and job seekers with disabilities, the federally funded National Technical Assistance Center (NTAC), based at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa‘s Center on Disability Studies, is sponsoring the official National Disability Mentoring Day on Wednesday, October 15, and urges Hawaiʻi‘s communities to participate by providing opportunities for one-on-one job shadowing and group visits to public and private employers.

National Disability Mentoring Day is one of many activities to take place during October as part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which promotes career development for students and job seekers with disabilities by encouraging job-shadowing and hands-on career exploration. Parents, students, teachers, vocational rehabilitation counselors, employers, service organizations, and anyone who has an interest in the employment issues affecting persons with disabilities who are willing and able to work are encouraged to participate.

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and the U.S. Department of Labor are also involved in nationwide efforts to coordinate this special event and the year-round effort to connect students and job-seekers with disabilities and employers. Year-long internships are encouraged and some of these contacts have resulted in increased employment opportunities in past years.

Officials have provided the following suggestions on how individuals can participate in this national event:

· Parents of youth with disabilities could take them to work to job-shadow them, or call a friend or acquaintance who is an employer to ask for job shadowing for a day or part of a day as a job mentor.

· Students and job seekers with disabilities could reach out on their own to try to set up a job-shadowing experience on this day with community employers.

· All employers are encouraged to do something positive for their local community by participating in implementing an open door policy and implementing their equal employment opportunity policy practice by tapping on the potential and ability of persons with disabilities by providing job-shadowing or internship opportunities.

· Friends could contact friends, or those individuals with disabilities who are already working might want to be a mentor for another potential employee with disabilities.

"Disability Mentoring Day: Career Development for the 21st Century" began in 1999 as part of a White House effort to heighten the awareness of Disability Employment Awareness Month. It was conceived as one way to help draw attention to disability issues and promote the employment of people with disabilities, and has grown to involve more than 3,500 students and job seekers and over 130 local coordinators in 37 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and first-time international participation in New Zealand and Kosovo (with additional events in Canada and Scotland), with a total of almost 700 mentoring organizations worldwide.

The Hawaiʻi community can help to make National Disability Mentoring Day and National Disability Employment Awareness Month a success by participating and making a positive difference in the local community. For further information, contact the National Technical Assistance Center's Network Coordinator M.E. Conway at 956-3339 or Pollie Bith at 956-5048.

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