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ST. PAUL– Minnesotans with disabilities play a critical role in our economy and provide immense value to our work environments.

October marks the 76th annual observation of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which is themed as "America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion." 

Minnesota’s economy and its competitiveness require the contributions of all people, including those with disabilities. 

In honor of this national celebration, Gov. Tim Walz has proclaimed October asDisability Employment Awareness Month in Minnesota, recognizing that individuals with disabilities are valuable and productive contributors to our economy and taxpayers in the workforce. 

“All too often, employers overlook job-seekers who come with disabilities – not recognizing that they bring with them unique abilities that strengthen our businesses,” DEED Commissioner Steve Grove said. “Our job at DEED is to help businesses tap into the extraordinary problem-solving, loyalty, and talents that more than half a million Minnesotans with disabilities bring to the workforce – and this month gives us an opportunity to highlight that.”  

Minnesota’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VRS) program, and State Services for the Blind (SSB) (both parts of DEED) have long focused on connecting workers with disabilities with opportunities. 

“Minnesota’s Vocational Rehabilitation program is committed to providing employment services – counseling, training, placement services, and job supports – to citizens with disabilities,” VRS Director Dee Torgerson said. “And we’re committed to partnering with businesses and employers to assist in recruiting and hiring skilled and talented individuals with disabilities to fulfill their staffing needs.” 

“State Services for the Blind puts the right job seekers together with the right employers,” Natasha Jerde, SSB director said. “Our customers, who are blind, DeafBlind, or visually impaired, bring the know-how, the skill, the experience, as well as the ability to overcome hurdles to the workplace. Time and again we hear from employers how pleased they are that they tapped into this under-used talent pool.” 

More than half a million, or approximately 11%, of Minnesotans report having one or more disabilities, and the unemployment rate of this group is more than double that of people without disabilities. That’s why the work of VRS and SSB remains so critical today. 

Employers who are looking to tap into the talent pool of workers with disabilities should visit our resources on CareerForceMN.com. The state and our partners have a slate of events throughout the month for employers.  

Career seekers with disabilities are encouraged to contact staff in the state’s Vocational Rehabilitation and State Services for the Blind divisions on CareerForceMN.com 

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