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Governor declares Disability Employment Awareness Month in October

Friday, September 24, 2021

OKLAHOMA CITY  —  Governor Kevin Stitt has declared October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month with a proclamation noting “the importance of people with disabilities gaining full access to employment opportunities and community engagement.”

Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, the state employment agency for citizens with disabilities, is already promoting the national theme “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion” in their offices across the state.

NDEAM is celebrated every October to honor the contributions of people with disabilities to workplaces and the national, state and local economies.

As part of the NDEAM celebration, DRS’ Business Services Program will host a free online webinar for employers called “The Gifts of Technology: Assistive Technology 101 Virtual Expo” from 9:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. on October 29. Six sessions with leading experts will focus on items, equipment and systems that improve functional capabilities of workers with disabilities. For more information, visit https://tinyurl.com/3d233jrh.

In 2020, DRS served 76,132 Oklahomans with disabilities through career planning, employment, education, independent living programs and the determination of medical eligibility for Social Security disability benefits.

DRS’ employment programs, Vocational Rehabilitation and Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, helped 11,532 Oklahomans with disabilities find employment through career counseling, vocational education and training, medical services required to become employed and assistive technology geared to their specific needs and career goals.

A total of 1,310 of those jobseekers become employed, earning $24,558 in average annual wages and paying $3, 684 in average annual taxes. As a result, they became self-sufficient, taxpaying citizens who reduced or eliminated their need for government services.

Oklahoma Rehabilitation Services also operates a Transition employment program that prepared 823 Oklahoma youth with disabilities to successfully move to post-secondary education and employment last year, in spite of the COVID-19 challenges.

“In 2018, the employment rate of working-age Oklahomans with disabilities, ages 21 to 64, was 38.7 percent compared to a 79.2% employment rate for Oklahomans without disabilities,” DRS Executive Director Melinda Fruendt said. “Our rehabilitation counselors and technicians are dedicated to closing that gap.”

Fruendt’s data source is the https://www.disabilitystatistics.org/StatusReports/2018-PDF/2018-StatusReport_OK.pdf as reported by Cornell University.

“Job openings increased for the fifth month in a row in July with vacancies projected to increase in the future,” Fruendt said. “We see this as a tremendous opportunity for our qualified, dependable clients who are ready to go to work. They are exactly what employers are looking for, now more than ever.”

This data appeared in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey report on September 8.

For more information, visit Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, at www.okdrs.gov or phone 800-847-4042 to be transferred to the nearest offices of Vocational Rehabilitation or Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

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For more information

Jody Harlan, DRS Communications Director

Cell: 405-203-1318 

Last Modified on Sep 24, 2021