By: Emma Ross
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. NDEM is held each October to commemorate the many and varied contributions of people with disabilities to America’s workplaces and economy.
Looking for fulfilling work with a disability may feel like an overwhelming and isolating experience. You are not alone. There are 50 million Americans with disabilities and a network of resources to support your search for a career. The “I Can” campaign from the Campaign for Disability Employment is a federally funded, collaborative effort among disability and business organizations working to change attitudes about disability and employment. Through “I can” statements, this campaign serves to highlight the limitless potential of workers with disabilities. Read testimonials below:
“I can manage your home improvements”- Michael Saulter. Michael is a landscaper and carpenter. Since the time he was young, he always enjoyed building things and so Michael chose this line of work with this interest and skill in mind. Michael has an intellectual disability that impacts his reading and writing. He says his disability wasn’t a factor when deciding what job to pursue, but that he has had to develop different ways to make sure he understands his customers’ needs. He says even though he works with his hands, comprehension and communication skills are an important part of the job.
“I can publicize your message” – Mat McCollough. Mat is a communications director for an office within a large city government. His job involves a lot of writing, working with the press and strategic planning with city leaders. Mat has an undergraduate degree in political science and a master’s in public administration. His first professional job was as a grants manager. Mat has cerebral palsy and uses crutches to help him walk. His speech is also impacted by his cerebral palsy.
“I can motivate your audience”-Josh Sundquist. Josh is a motivational speaker and best-selling author who earned an undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary and master’s degree from the University of Southern California. He is also a skier who competed in the 2006 Paralympics in Italy. Josh has one leg. His left leg was amputated due to cancer when he was nine years old. He got started speaking after hearing a motivational speaker at school and realizing that his experiences might also help others confront challenges in their lives.
The “I Can” campaign shows that when it comes to work, it’s what you CAN do that matters. Work is important to everyone, not just a business or employer, and means more than just a paycheck. Having a job or a career means being able to make your own choices about how you want to live your life. Connect with a Career Advisor at your local PA CareerLink® office to learn about job openings that match your career goals.