The City of Somerville and the Commission for Persons with Disabilities announced this month that the City will celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month with a community event featuring art by local residents on Wednesday, Oct. 23, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Aldermanic Chambers at City Hall. The art exhibit will feature work by artists at the Walnut Street Center and students of the John F. Kennedy Elementary School, as well as a handmade quilt by students at the Perkins School for the Blind. Refreshments will be served and a short speaking program will include a presentation by the Chair of the Somerville Commission for Persons with Disabilities.
“The City is proud to participate in this national campaign that seeks to raise awareness about disability employment issues and highlight the valuable contributions of America’s employees with disabilities, among them, our returning veterans,” said Betsy Allen, ADA Coordinator. “We want to honor the invaluable service being provided each day by City employees and residents with disabilities.”
The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month dates back to 1945, when Congress passed a law declaring the first week in October of each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was dropped to acknowledge both the employment needs and the contributions of individuals with a broad range of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
“When I was growing up, many people doubted what I could do just because I was blind. But because I had people in my life who instilled in me an expectation of work and showed me opportunities to be successful, I completed college and became known for what I can do,” said Kathy Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy, when announcing the theme for this year, which is “Because We Are EQUAL to the Task.”
Please join us on Oct. 23 and every day in spreading the important message that a strong workforce is one that values inclusiveness and the contributions of all of its employees, including persons with disabilities.