Governor Blagojevich Salutes Illinois Businesses that Employ People with Disabilities


  • Kelley Quinn (312) 814-3158
  • Marielle Sainvilus (IDHS) (312) 814-8199
  • Tom Green (IDHS) (217) 558-1538

Governor proclaims October 2008 as Disability Employment Awareness Month

CHICAGO - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today proclaimed October 2008 as Disability Employment Awareness Month and announced that his Administration will recognize numerous companies in October for their commitment to hiring people with disabilities.

In the last three years, the Illinois Department of Human Service (IDHS) Vocational Rehabilitation program helped 15,165 people with disabilities become employed, an average of 5,055 people employed each year.

"More Illinois employers, both large and small, are finding that people with disabilities represent a proven workforce of dedicated, qualified and valuable employees," said Governor Blagojevich. "We will continue to work hard to help people with disabilities find and retain good jobs in Illinois. Everyone has a right to go to work and support themselves and their families."

As Illinois' lead agency serving individuals with disabilities, IDHS helps people with disabilities prepare for and find quality employment that pays a living wage and offers opportunities for advancement. IDHS works closely with employers through its Corporate Business Partner initiative to match them with qualified individuals with the skills and qualities they need. The agency also offers a wide range of support services to assist eligible individuals with disabilities in obtaining and maintaining employment.

The percentage of people with disabilities, who received job placement services from IDHS, rather than through a contract agency, rose from 32 percent in FY2006 to 39 percent in FY2008.

The 15,165 individuals who became employed through the IDHS Vocational Rehabilitation program work an average of 29.5 hours per week, and 30.1 percent receive medical insurance benefits through their employer. The average hourly wage earned by individuals employed after participating in IDHS Vocational Rehabilitation services rose from $9.41 in FY2006 to $9.79 in FY2008.

Governor Blagojevich's Administration actively encourages businesses to participate in Disability Mentoring Day on October 15. This day is recognized across the nation and allows employers to see first hand the value and diversity that workers with disabilities bring to the work place. Job seekers with disabilities have the opportunity to learn about a variety of employment settings which can assist them in career exploration and job search.

"The most important part of a job search is the ability to network with people in the workforce," said IDHS Secretary Carol L. Adams, Ph.D. "Helping job seekers with disabilities develop employment networks can help level the playing field during their job search. This year the administration is working to increase the number of job seekers with disabilities who are involved in mentoring situations."

Recognition events are being organized by many of the department's field offices including those listed below:

  • October 9 - Employer Panel at Workforce Network in Peoria, 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
  • October 14 - Passavant Hospital tour, Jacksonville 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
  • October 15 - Downers Grove DRS office will host an employer panel at the Glenside Public Library, Glendale Heights
  • October 15 - Springfield DRS Office event at the State Fair Grounds
    • 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Independent Showcase 52 Community Agencies will distribute information to General Public
    • 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Employer Fair 75 Area Employers will distribute information and applications for current and future job openings for potential candidates. Open to General Public
  • October 17 - Grand Chain Nancy Turini Transition Specialist Grand Chain Learning Center 12:30 p.m.
  • October 30 - Chicago 2008 Region 1 Employer Recognition Event at South Shore Cultural Center 7059 S. South Shore Drive Solarium Room Chicago

For more information about hiring persons with disabilities and other services provided by DHS/DRS, call 1-800/843-6154 (Voice) or 1-800/447-6404 (TTY).

2008 Disability Employment Awareness Month Proclamation

WHEREAS, there are approximately 54 million Americans with some sort of physical, mental, or sensory impairment which limits one or more major life activity and these individuals are more than twice as likely to be living in poverty as the rest of the general population; and

WHEREAS, the ability of people with disabilities to fulfill their aspirations and lead full and productive lives is limited only by the opportunities afforded them; and

WHEREAS, efforts continue to be made to create opportunities for greater independence, inclusive of physical accessibility, education, access to information, and involvement with the community for people with disabilities and their families; and

WHEREAS, there are more and more individuals coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan with Traumatic Brain Injuries, amputations, and other disabilities; and

WHEREAS, in spite of Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act being implemented in 1992, individuals with disabilities are much more likely to be unemployed or underemployed, even though most individuals with disabilities who are not working indicate that they want to work; and

WHEREAS, the State of Illinois recognizes this employment disparity and encourages public and private employers to hire qualified applicants with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, there are programs in Illinois, such as the Successful Disability Opportunity program, which encourage state government agencies to hire citizens with disabilities, as well as tax incentives and deductions for employers to make reasonable accommodations to their workers with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services encourages individuals with disabilities who are working to purchase health insurance through the Health Benefits for Workers with Disabilities Program; and

WHEREAS, employees with disabilities are generally highly productive, responsible workers and much can be done to help teach the value of diversity and accept the uniqueness of people with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, the month of October is recognized as National Disability Employment Awareness Month and the week of October 13-17 has specifically been targeted for a number of Disability Mentoring Day activities in Illinois:

THEREFORE, I, Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim October 2008 as NATIONAL DISABILITY EMPLOYMENT AWARENESS MONTH in Illinois and reaffirm the commitment of my administration to helping those with disabilities.