Disability Mentoring Day
Earlier in the month we wrote about President Obama signing into law the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. In his presidential adress, President Obama declared his beliefe that this legislation will “greatly increase access to technology, with advances in areas such as closed captioning, delivery of emergency information, video description, and other advanced communications,” all things for which he believed were “essential tools for learning and working in today’s technological society.” [Source]
Along with the efforts of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (in October), the technology act is designed not only to afford equal access for individuals with disabilities, it is also designed to create fair access to employment by individuals with disabilites with the same technology that has changed the way we work and live.
With an administration that has proclaimed a commitment to ensuring people living with disabilities have fair access, Obama has openly declaired that his driving goal is provide the means necessary to allow individuals with disabilities the opportunity to contribute to our economy and realize their dreams through career employment. Americans with disabilities continue to be employed at a rate far below Americans without disabilities, and they are underrepresented in our Federal workforce.
The effort to correct this imbalance in employment is not a new endeavor, but its nice to see the President is so committed to the cause. Beginning in 1999, Disability Mentoring Day is a national effort to promote career development for students with disabilities through hands-on career exploration. Students with disabilities (mentees) are matched with workplace mentors according to expressed career interests. Mentees then experience a typical day on the job and learn how to prepare to enter the world of work. Employers gain an increased awareness that people with disabilities represent an overlooked talent pool.
With its humble beginnings of fewer than three-dozen student participants in 1999, in 2005 some 9,000 youths with disabilities participated nationally and in 20 international locations. More then 2,000 provate, non-profit, governmental, and educational organizations participated as mentors.
This year’s Disability Mentoring Day (October 18th) saw the participation of several of our own local businesses, including Home Depot, Red Lobster, Sam’s Club, and Bill Cramer Chevrolet. We commend these mentors for their participation in the furthering of equal access employment for individuals with disabilities.