October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. According the the Americans With Disabilities Act, a person can be said to have a disability if they fall within some of the following distinctions:

1. If he or she has a physical or mental condition that substantially limits a major life activity (such as walking, talking, seeing, hearing or learning).
2. If he or she has a history of a disability (such as cancer that is in remission).

3. If he or she is believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory (lasting or expected to last six months or less) and minor (even if he does not have such an impairment).

As Kathy Martinez, the assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor wrote in announcing this month: “The importance of work extends far beyond any one individual. When all people are able to contribute and be recognized for their abilities, society as a whole reaps the benefits. Local economies are bolstered. Communities are strengthened.

This essential principle is at the heart of this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) theme: A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?” This theme conveys that we all have a role to play in—and can benefit from—increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Employers must foster workplaces that are welcoming to current and potential employees with disabilities. But the responsibility doesn’t stop there. Those of us with disabilities must understand the intrinsic value of work and the skills and talent we have to offer. Youth with disabilities must grow up with the expectation of employment; and parents, educators and other adults of influence in their lives must reinforce this. America’s future success requires us to capitalize on the talents of all segments of the population, and the responsibility for making that happen must be shared. There is something everyone can do—every day of every month.

Here at Sinai Hospital, VSP, a hospital department and vocational rehabilitation provider for over 45 years, is doing a lot to foster a strong and inclusive workforce. Through its array of comprehensive vocational services, VSP increases employment opportunities to over 300 Baltimore area individuals with disabilities and economic need annually. 

Recognized as one of the region’s workforce development leaders, VSP utilizes a client-centered approach by offering career assessment, work adjustment training, office technology skills training, job placement and direct employment to both youth and adults at VSP’s Seton Business Park facility or within over 30 LBH departments at Sinai, Northwest Hospital and Levindale. A single-point-of-entry system (intake) allows streamlined access to VSP's complete array of services.

Each year, VSP services have resulted in dozens of secure jobs for our participants with advancement opportunities leading to economic self-sufficiency. On average, LifeBridge Health hires 50 of our graduates annually into a variety of positions throughout the health system. Many other graduates obtain employment with local employers.

With strong LifeBridge Health department partnerships in providing venues to train and support our trainees, our caring, skilled professionals provide a continuum of services all of which are tailored to the needs of our clients. As a LifeBridge Health employee/member, you can be proud to know that each and every day; we are fulfilling the intent of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Click here to read some truly inspirational VSP success stories.

- Writen by Mira Appleby, manager for Program Development at VSP

To schedule an appointment with one of our highly trained physicians and find out why LifeBridge Health is Baltimore's premier health care organization, call 410-601-WELL.

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