Cornell University's Employment and Disability Institute and Syracuse University's Burton Blatt Institute joined forces October 6-7 in Albany, NY bringing some 200 individuals across disciplines, agencies, and sects of the disability community to aggressively address the on-going issue of unemployment amongst individuals with disabilities. This is an initiative that Disability Awareness Training (DAT) has been working on over the last two years. The timing could not have been better; October is Disability Awareness Employment Month, DAT recently met with the Buffalo Niagara Human Resources Assn to move forward the initiative DAT introduced July 2007, President Obama announced his administration is taking several steps to ensure fair and equal access to employment for all Americans, the US Dept of Labor is going to establish the National Technical Assistance Center for employers on people with disabilities, and the Summit was held with the intent to identify AND address the issue.

DAT has taken the position that any initiative starts with the employer, be it corporations or small business, and a need to educate so they can overcome any stigma and clear up any misperceptions while understanding the benefits of hiring an individual with a disability. We would love employers to look beyond disability but they do not. They need awareness training and that's OK. Once received, they have obtained an understanding of why they don't hire and what they need to understand in order to hire. Looking beyond the ADA, understanding accommodations and accessibility, tax incentives and breaks, customer base increase, and embracing diversity through disability all make for a better place of employment that adds to the bottom line while responding to the total community.

NY Makes Work Pay is a beginning, and the hope is that it forces positive change through policy and education. Are you in a decision making position to do the same at your place of employment? Contact us to help you easily initiate the next step. You'll be glad you did.