As Disability Employment Awareness Month winds down, more effort is needed to increase inclusivity for disabled workers

CLEARWATER, Fla. — As the US Department of Labor’s National Disability Employment Awareness month comes to a close, large disparities still divide the workforce, excluding one of the greatest assets to American businesses, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).


According to recent statistics published by the US Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy in collaboration with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 22.5% of Americans with disabilities are currently employed nationwide. This pales in comparison to the nearly three-quarters of Americans without disabilities who are currently a part of the national workforce.(1)


It is estimated that individuals with IDD make up an even smaller percentage of the workforce, with as little as 18% of this population currently employed. Those who are employed typically work limited hours in entry-level positions, earn low wages, and have limited access to employee benefits. 


There are many benefits of competitive integrated employment for people with IDD including  better psychological and physical health, improved economic outcomes, increased sense of control, self-determination and personal independence, and improved quality of life. (2) 


Employers also benefit from improvements to the organization’s bottom line, increased productivity, greater diversity, enhanced customer loyalty and improved employee retention rates. Tax deductions, financial incentives and opportunities for government contracts for disability-inclusive organizations are also available (3,4). 


According to Dr. Craig Escudé, President of IntellectAbility, people with IDD can fill many of the gaps that exist in the workforce right now. “Employers often think that people with a disability are going to require extensive support and training. But in actuality, the support that is required is a lot less than what most people think.”


IntellectAbility provides tools and training to agencies, governmental entities, and supporters of people with IDDs to foster early recognition and mitigation of health risks, thereby improving health and wellness. And we appreciate the critical connection between employment, health and well-being, and better health outcomes for people with IDD. 


“There are many drivers of good health, and we know that there’s been more focus on social determinants of health and the negative impact of unmet social needs on overall health outcomes,” says Dr. Escudé. “At the end of the day, people with disabilities want what everyone else wants- to be valued for the work they do, to attain economic stability, and to experience a high level of job satisfaction. When provided with opportunities for competitive, integrated employment, they also reap the benefit of better health outcomes”.  


One important way people can support disability employment is to do business with organizations that are disability-owned and operated. Recently, IntellectAbility did just that by ordering custom-designed, branded socks from John’s Crazy Socks, a company founded by John Cronin and his father Mark. John, a person with Down Syndrome, was not satisfied with his employment options when he graduated from high school and decided to start a business based on his interest in unique socks. John’s Crazy Socks is now a recognized leader in disability employment, with over half of its workforce comprised of people with “differing abilities”.  


“As 2023 National Disability Employment Month comes to a close, we hope employers will consider how their organization can create a more inclusive environment, and, at the same time, improve the health of their organization and the health and well-being of people with IDD,” says Dr. Escudé.

IntellectAbility provides tools and training to agencies, governmental entities, and supporters of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to foster early recognition and mitigation of health risks, thereby improving health and wellness.


One such tool is the Health Risk Screening Tool (HRST), of which they are the sole developer, producer, and distributor. The web-based HRST is the most widely used and validated health risk screening instrument for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. IntellectAbility also provides numerous health-related and person-centered service training for supporters of people with IDD. With an unrelenting focus, IntellectAbility works to fulfill its mission of improving health and quality of life for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and other at-risk populations. For more information, visit