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Every October, Colorado joins all states  in celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Governor Jared Polis has issued a proclamation to recognize the value, talent and many contributions that people with disabilities bring to the workplace.

Integrating Coloradans living with disabilities into the workplace is a collaborative effort between business, nonprofits, and government. Among the key contributors are the advocates for disability rights that are focused on offering support, celebrating disability and raising awareness. The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, a part of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, connects people with educational and training opportunities to gain self-sufficiency and employment. And critical to this joint effort is Colorado’s business community. Together, they are closing the gap in labor force participation rates between Coloradans with disabilities and those without disabilities.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month is also a time to strategize how Colorado can improve the outcomes of adults and youth with disabilities who are unemployed or underemployed and receiving Social Security disability benefits. The Polis administration places a premium on ensuring that Coloradans with disabilities have the resources and tools they need to thrive. Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera leads the Colorado Disability Funding Commission and has been a long-time disability advocate.

“National Disability Employment Awareness Month highlights the incredible value of hiring people with disabilities and appreciating the talents and life experiences they bring to workplaces across sectors including state employment,” said Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera. “Governor Polis and I are committed to building a state where everyone has the opportunity to lead healthy, meaningful, and prosperous lives that contribute to their communities.” 

“Disability: Part of the Equity Equation” has been chosen as the theme for this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The theme is an important reminder that a strong workforce is the sum of many parts. It is critical that Colorado continues its efforts to build diversity in the workforce and disability inclusion is an important part of that diversity. Gov. Polis writes in his proclamation that “people with disabilities play an essential role in enhancing and building the diversity of Colorado’s workforce. People with disabilities are part of an equitable, diverse, and inclusive workplace.”

There are 599,443 Coloradans living with some form of disability. That’s more than 10 percent of the state’s population and of that population with disabilities, 26 percent are also members of other marginalized communities. When people with disabilities are employed, they contribute a vital role in making the workforces of Colorado and the nation more diverse and inclusive.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. October is a time to focus on the importance of giving people with disabilities the education, training, and job opportunities they need to seize the opportunities of tomorrow.

About Disability Employment Awareness Month

The federal effort to recognize people with disabilities began in 1945, when Congress declared the first week in October to be “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” The word “physically” was dropped in 1962 to include individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week and christened the month of October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month.