October 4, 2018 - The Fort Wayne-Allen County Disability Advisory Council is proud to stand united with the City of Fort Wayne and the Allen County Government leaders to announce our joint participation in Disability Employment Awareness Month, which takes place annually in October.  The Disability Employment Awareness Month is designed to educate people about disability employment issues and to celebrate the many and varied contributions of American workers with disabilities. This year’s theme is “America’s Workforce: Empowering All.”

The Fort Wayne Allen-County Disability Advisory Council strongly believes that Americans of all abilities must have access to good and safe jobs. In just over a year, there have been three major positive developments focused on disability employment that have made it clear that Fort Wayne and Allen County are places which welcome and value employees of all abilities.

Fort Wayne was designated as an Ability City on June 8, 2017, providing the disabled adults with the opportunity to work on a variety of valuable state-wide projects. Also, other business partnerships were made available as a result of this designation. To date, only Indianapolis, Evansville, and Fort Wayne are Ability Cities.

In December of 2017, the Fort Wayne-Allen County Disability Advisory Council itself was established. This Council’s mission is “to assist in providing equal access for people with disabilities to employment, services, programs, and activities offered in the City and County.  Some of the Council’s responsibilities will include serving as an information resource for City and County elected officials and administrators regarding needs and conditions of people with disabilities, identifying barriers to full community participation, and recommending corrective actions.”

In July of this year, an AWS Foundation grant was given to Greater Fort Wayne, Inc. to hire a disability employment services coordinator to act as a liaison between the business community and the disabled community.  It is advantageous for the Fort Wayne and Allen County business community to hire a diverse workforce, to employ persons of all abilities. The current low unemployment rate in the Fort Wayne area means that there is an increased number of job opportunities for people of diverse abilities.  Several non-profit organizations in the Fort Wayne-Allen County area are actively supporting programs to help obtain meaningful employment opportunities for adults with disabilities.

Through observing and celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Fort Wayne-Allen County Disability Advisory Council hopes to raise public awareness of disabled persons and to emphasize that persons with a wide range of abilities contribute to an active and vibrant employment environment.