October is a big month for Americans with disabilities. In addition to being National Spina Bifida Awareness Month, President Barack Obama declared Monday that it will also be National Disability Employment Awareness Month (you can read his full proclamation here).
President Obama recognizes both the actual and the potential contributions of Americans with disabilities to the national economy. This demographic is an important human resource, and to under-utilize them is not just discrimination that hurts those with disabilities, but a senseless decision that damages the country as a whole. The proclamation states:
Utilizing the talents of all Americans is essential for our Nation to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world. During National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we recognize the skills that people with disabilities bring to our workforce, and we rededicate ourselves to improving employment opportunities in both the public and private sectors for those living with disabilities.
More than 20 years after the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, individuals with disabilities, including injured veterans, are making immeasurable contributions to workplaces across our country. Unfortunately, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities remains too high — nearly double the rate of people without disabilities — and reversing this trend is crucial.
You’re dead on, Mr. President. This is not a problem for one community; it is a problem for all of us.