Media release

 

(Oklahoma City, Okla)  – October 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month in the United States.

 

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt recognized the anniversary with a proclamation “to raise awareness about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of Oklahomans with disabilities.”

 

Oklahoma Rehabilitation Services, the state employment agency for citizens with disabilities, is promoting the national theme “Increasing Access and Opportunity” in the agency’s offices around the state. (http://www.okdrs.gov/office-locator)

 

The agency produced a video with Justin Brown, Department of Human Services executive director and, Melinda Fruendt, DRS executive director, and both agencies’ clients and employers. Brown is cabinet secretary of Human Services and Early Childhood Development.

 

The captioned video at https://youtu.be/wVmwje_6F3A honors 643,400 Oklahomans with disabilities and employers who provide equal access and opportunities in the workforce. The video includes a transcript in comments under the video window for those with disabilities. Another version provides audio descriptions of onscreen text and action for people who are blind or visually impaired. https://youtu.be/b9qebzgwCuc.

 

Staff in DRS’ Vocational Rehabilitation and Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired provided employment services to 15,225 Oklahomans with disabilities in 2019.

 

VR and SBVI staff helped 1,115 of those jobseekers become employed, earning $23,409 in annual average wages and paying $3,511 in average annual taxes.

 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 8.5% of work-age Oklahomans with disabilities were not working, but actively looking for work compared to 15.8% of persons without disabilities, according to the U.S. Census.

 

In June 2020, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities rose to 16.5%, compared to 11% for workers without a disability, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

June 2nd marked the 100th anniversary of the public vocational rehabilitation program in the U.S.

 

July 26th was the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is the first civil rights legislation for people with disabilities;

 

For more information about the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, visit www.okdrs.gov or phone 800-845-8476.