“America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion”
Easterseals Colorado is proud to support National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Held each October, NDEAM aims to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. The theme for NDEAM 2021, “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion,” reflects the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Held annually, National Disability Employment Awareness Month is led by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, but its true spirit lies in the many observances held at the grassroots level across the nation every year. Organizations of all sizes and in all industries are encouraged to participate in NDEAM. Join us!

With the unemployment rate among adults with disabilities nearly 12 times the national average, it’s important to highlight NDEAM. It is through Easterseals Colorado’s Employment Services that we provide the training and guidance needed to prepare our clients to enter the workforce so they can earn money to live and thrive.

“Ultimate Problem Solvers, Remarkable Talent”
This series, brought to you by Easterseals HQ, focuses on people with disabilities with meaningful, exciting careers including photos and quotes about their personal experiences with employment/inclusion.

Yannick Benjamin is a Remarkable Talent (and knows a thing or two about wine). He is a NYC-based sommelier at the University Club and one of the Co-Founders of Wheeling Forward, a non-profit that “enables people with disabilities to see possibility where others see insurmountable obstacles,” stepping in to help recently disabled people that lack a support system and resources to obtain the services they need, as well as helping people adapt to life with a long-term disability: “Wheeling Forward is trying to champion people who have disabilities who have goals and objectives that they would like to achieve, but they may not have the right resources or the exact network of family and friends to help them get there and Wheeling Forward tries to provide them with whatever is necessary to help them achieve their objectives and their goals. We all know that it’s very difficult in this day and age, let alone when you have a disability, to try to do it on your own. Everyone needs a little help.” Along with Wheeling Forward Co-Founder Alex Elegudin, the two have founded Wine on Wheels in New York City. Before a car accident in 2003 left Yannick paralyzed, he had a dream of becoming a world class sommelier. Today, Yannick is an Advanced Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers. On Wine on Wheels, Yannick had to say: “We really want to start bringing attention and awareness about people with disabilities to have more employment and more opportunities in the hospitality sector, whether that’s working in a winery, whether it’s working in a hotel, in a restaurant, but I just don’t think that there’s enough opportunities because when we talk about the hospitality sector, they are constantly looking for people, it’s a massive sector but yet still we’re completely left out, we’re completely invisible and there’s a lot of factors to that, and the main one that I think personally is because the major leaders in our industry and the culture of hospitality haven’t made that effort, there’s a combination of not being educated enough, not having the resources to be like how can we get more involved and I think what we want to really do is show that people with disabilities are incredibly hardworking, they’re dedicated and they bring a lot of value.”

Ben Trockman is a Remarkable Talent. A graduate of the University of Southern Indiana, Ben joined Old National Bank in 2014 as Community Outreach and Employment Specialist. Ben has been challenged to assist Old National to become a leader in disability employment and inclusion through education and awareness, while working to enhance recruiting efforts and rethinking the hiring processes to successfully recruit, on-board and employ people with disabilities. He is active within the disability advocacy community, and works with legislators in Washington DC and Indianapolis to improve employment opportunities, airline accessibility and healthcare options for people with disabilities. Ben also serves as Evansville City Council Member, First Ward and is the former Easterseals National Adult Representative from 2012. “Creating an inclusive company culture takes deliberate action and intentional effort,” Ben wrote. “In my career at Old National, I’ve had the pleasure of planting the seeds of inclusion, specifically for people with disabilities in the workforce by fostering relationships that blossom in the shape of mentorships, internships and full-time employment opportunities.”

Shaina Ghuraya is a Remarkable Talent. She is a writer on the upcoming Netflix Animation show Boons and Curses. Her artistic style is unapologetic, quirky and bold. She jokes that she is a triple threat – a woman, Punjabi, and disabled. “As a disabled, Indian woman I really struggled to find my place in whatever spaces I navigated, whether they were school, work, or even parties,” Shaina said. “It wasn’t until I started owning my identities that I realized I didn’t need to “find” my place, I needed to take it. Currently I’m taking my place in Hollywood as a writer/director which has not been easy. Hollywood perpetuates ableism not only in its content, but also in the workforce. Things are slowly changing, but so many gatekeepers have the power to make things change faster, and a large part of that is simply hiring creatives with disabilities. We’re out here, we’re talented, and we’re tired of not being included. Our stories are literally untold, so let’s change that.”

Erin Hawley is a Remarkable Talent. She is the Communications and Digital Content Producer for Easterseals HQ. Erin has collaborated with companies like Microsoft, Logitech, Adobe, and Electronic Arts to ensure accessibility and inclusivity is not an afterthought. She has been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, HuffPost, and on other platforms. She lives in Keyport, New Jersey, and you can find her online under the moniker The Geeky Gimp, her personal blog reviewing various nerdy media from a disability perspective. She obtained her Master’s degree in Multicultural and Translational Literatures at East Carolina University. “Our mission is one that’s really important because we don’t just offer services to help an individual day-to-day, we help in advocacy and getting the message out there that people with disabilities should be 100% included and 100% valued in society,” Erin said of her work with Easterseals. “I feel like focusing on employment this month that we should all really look at how the pandemic has changed the job landscape and how especially it has affected people with disabilities.”

All In for Disability Equity – 5 Powerful Reasons Why You Should Hire People with Disabilities
We’ll give you 5 powerful reasons why your company should hire people with disabilities. Read below!

1. Innovative Thinkers, Ultimate Problem Solvers
People with disabilities are highly skilled at adapting to new or difficult situations. When a company taps a diverse talent pool, including people with disabilities, employers find their work force to be more productive, creative and better at problem solving.

2. Reliable Employees
Despite common misconceptions, employees with disabilities are loyal, consistently rating higher than their non-disabled peers when it comes to the number of missed days at work, daily punctuality or adhering to a consistent work schedule, and staying on the job in their roles for longer tenures.

3. Strong Work Ethic
People with disabilities are motivated to work. Research shows that having people with disabilities in the workplace improves staff morale, strengthens teamwork, and elevates both the quality and pace of work that other staff produce.

4. Increase Profits
The majority of employers who have made the commitment — evolving their diversity policies to be more inclusive to recruit, hire, and retain employees with disabilities — have seen a positive impact on their bottom line, increasing productivity, customer loyalty and profitability.

5. Customers Value Your Values
Socially responsible companies are more successful in today’s marketplace. Your business practices matter to customers, directly influencing their purchasing decisions. The overwhelming majority of consumers are more favorable to companies that have diverse, equitable and inclusive workforces, including people with disabilities in their teams and within their branding and marketing efforts.

Impact of COVID Study
This year, Easterseals HQ conducted a study to determine how the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected people with disabilities. We found that people with disabilities were more likely to be unemployed than the general population. In 2020, only 17.9% of the population of working-age people with disabilities were working versus 61.8% of the general population. Workers with disabilities were also more likely to be employed part-time than people in the overall population. We must collaborate with leaders to develop resources and tangible solutions to build a more inclusive, equitable workforce. View the entire study at www.easterseals.com/covidstudy.

All In for Disability Equity
We at Easterseals Colorado are All In for Disability Equity. We’re committed to collaborating with leaders across every industry to include disability within diversity. Today, one in four people identify as having a disability. The unemployment rate among adults with disabilities is nearly 12 times the national average. Two out of three people with disabilities want to work, but have not been able to secure jobs because of accessibility and attitudinal barriers.

At Easterseals Colorado, we believe all people should be 100 percent included and 100 percent empowered in the workforce. We focus on defining and finding the right job for our clients, regardless of age or ability. Working with Employment Services, job seekers will be provided with the training and guidance needed to prepare for and enter the workforce to earn money to live and thrive. For employers, our individualized services ensure that you are matched with pre-screened job candidates who meet the needs of your business. Easterseals Colorado’s Employment Services provide unique benefits to both employers and people looking for work. Participating employers are viewed as partners who share a goal of providing competitive integrated employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Job seekers are given an opportunity to join the workforce and earn money to live and thrive.

Find out how you, your business and/or your industry can get involved with Easterseals Colorado’s Employment Services on our website here. Feel free to share this blog post with your community to show your support of NDEAM this October.

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