Washington, DC, March 6, 2014 – The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the nation’s largest disability rights organization, is proud to announce the 2014 launch of Disability Mentoring Day (DMD) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh was chosen as the DMD launch location due in part to the commitment to economic equality demonstrated by Allegheny County, the Allegheny County 365 Committee, and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development.
DMD, which is observed on the third Wednesday of each October, connects more than 17,000 students and job seekers with disabilities to thousands of employers each year. AAPD is working to expand the concept of DMD into a yearlong initiative in order to highlight the importance of workplace mentoring for people with and without disabilities and to increase work opportunities for Americans with disabilities. People with disabilities continue to be an untapped workforce, at a national unemployment rate of 13.3 percent compared to 6.8 percent of people without disabilities. DMD utilizes the importance of mentoring to increase the recruitment and retention of people with disabilities in the workforce.
Pittsburgh is an ideal location for the launch of DMD in 2014 due to the commitment of Allegheny County to the disability community. The Allegheny 365 Committee, which was co-chaired by AAPD Board Member Joyce Bender, was charged with developing an action plan to ensure that people with disabilities have access to the services that Allegheny County provides. The Committee’s recommendations have led to implementation of policies and programs that have impacted those with disabilities in positive and valuable ways.
“Ensuring that the opportunities in Allegheny County are available to everyone has been a priority of my administration since taking office in 2012. The work of the Allegheny 365 Committee and its commitment to inclusion and accessibility for all people with disabilities has made a significant difference in our region,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “We are thrilled that Allegheny County was selected for its leadership in this realm, and very excited to be a part of the 2014 DMD launch.”
The Allegheny Conference on Community Development continues to improve workforce inclusion and connect individuals with work opportunities in Allegheny County and across southwestern Pennsylvania. Their commitment to equal opportunity to work and their focus on STEM programs aligns with the DMD mission for people with disabilities.
“Pittsburgh’s got a challenge – a growing number of jobs and not enough people to fill them. In fact, at any given time, ImaginePittsburgh.com lists about 25,000 open jobs in the ten-county Pittsburgh region. To meet the demand and to mirror their customers, employers must recruit workers with diverse backgrounds and experiences – and that includes people with disabilities. ImaginePittsburgh.com makes connections to help people find their place in the region, professionally and personally,” said Laura Fisher, Senior Vice President, Workplace, Allegheny Conference on Community Development, the organization that has spearheaded ImaginePittsburgh.com, a web-based gateway to professional and personal opportunities in the Pittsburgh region.
“Allegheny County is a model for DMD sites across the nation,” said Mark Perriello, President and CEO of AAPD. “We are extremely excited to work with Allegheny County, the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, and corporate partners throughout the region for our launch of DMD in Pittsburgh.”
For more information and to find out how to participate in Disability Mentoring Day, please click here.
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The American Association of People with Disabilities is a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities.