Friday, April 25, 2014

Campaign for Disability Employment

Empirical and anecdotal data tell us many people with intellectual disabilities do work and contribute enormously, but that, unfortunately, most are denied the opportunity. A recent Special Olympics survey conducted by Gallup and the University of Massachusetts at Boston identified a few startling statistics on this front:

Only 44 percent of adults with intellectual disabilities are in the labor force, which is defined as either employed or actively seeking work. In contrast, 83 percent of adults without disabilities are in the labor force. Furthermore, the unemployment rate for adults with intellectual disabilities (21 percent) is more than twice as high as those without disabilities (9 percent). Someone is considered unemployed if he or she is without a job and actively looking for and available for work.

Special Olympics’ mission may not be to place people in jobs or force employers to employ people with intellectual disabilities. Its ultimate goal, however, is to enable people with intellectual disabilities to become respected and productive members of society.

Because of this, Special Olympics is a founding member of the Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE), a multi-organization collaborative, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, that works to promote positive employment outcomes for people with disabilities. The CDE has many resources and vehicles to spread the important message that when it comes to work—just like in sports—it’s what you CAN do that matters.

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