SRU education majors offer disability employment awareness
Oct. 24, 2016
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - According to a 2013 Cornell University report, the employment rate for working age persons in the U.S. with a disability sits at just 34.5 percent.
It's a number that a group of Slippery Rock University elementary and special education majors feels is far too low. As a result, the group has a clear message for any who will listen: inclusion works.
The students, who number more than 10 strong, are localizing the Oct. 24-28 National Disability Employment Awareness Month program, which draws attention to workforce diversity. This year's theme? You guessed it, #InclusionWorks.
The group advocates that those persons with disabilities should have every opportunity to become fully integrated into the communities where they live and work; and that the building of an inclusive workforce is beneficial to everyone.
As part of the weeklong awareness program, students will hand out ribbons with facts on a variety of disabilities from information tables located at Rocky's in the Smith Student Center and Boozel Dining Hall.
This year's focus will be on autism, physical disability and Down syndrome, according to Casey Chuderewicz, an elementary education major from Jefferson Hills, who is organizing the program.
"We want to make everyone aware that people with disabilities can work with very little holding them back," she said.
Chuderewicz said she has observed the employment challenges faced by those with a disability. A close friend, who is autistic and is an experienced medical facility volunteer, has been unable to find steady employment despite numerous applications.
"Nowadays, some people are down on people with disabilities and think they're not 'good enough' to hold a regular job," said Chuderewicz. "Our group believes not only are these individuals 'good enough,' they are our equals. People need to know that."
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, Disability Employment Awareness Month is observed each October to celebrate the contribution of workers with disabilities and to provide education to the general public for additional advocacy.
SRU offers a variety of programs that assist persons with disabilities prepare for employment, including the Transition Program, which teaches pre-employment skills, community integration and independence.
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