Leonardtown, MD – It was in 1945 when Congress designated the first week in October as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed its name to “National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The U.S. Census Bureau says individuals with disabilities are an untapped resource still experiencing an unemployment rate of 7.3 percent in the United States. This compares to a 3.4% unemployment rate for individuals without a disability. The Commissioners of St. Mary’s County held a proclamation ceremony to focus attention to the problem.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s theme for this year’s national observance, celebrating 73 years of Disability Employment Awareness Month, is “America’s Workforce:  Empowering All”. It meat to raise awareness about disability employment issues, celebrates the many and varied contributions and reinforces the value and talent of people with disabilities which adds to all workplaces and communities. It also affirms the county’s commitment to an inclusive community.

“Workplaces welcoming the talents of all people, including people with disabilities, are a critical part of efforts to build an inclusive community and strong economy,” said Commissioner Todd Morgan (4th District). “All individuals should be given the opportunity to participate entirely and equally in the social and economic life of the state and in the opportunity to engage in gainful employment.”

By proclaiming National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the commissioners urge citizens to observe the month with appropriate programs and activities which reaffirm the county’s dedication to creating equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Images courtesy of the St. Mary’s County Public Information Office