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Employment Awareness Month addresses disabilities

ALBANY, Ga. -- With a few of the handicapped present in her office Wednesday, Mayor Dorothy Hubbard proclaimed October National Disability Employment Awareness Month in Albany, as well as National Federation of the Blind Month.

The roots of NDEAM were established by Congress in 1945 as "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to acknowledge needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988 the week was extended to a month and the current name was established.

"This acknowledges a large untapped national work force," said Mark Hester, rehabilitation employment specialist, Georgia Department. of Labor. "We're hoping by raising awareness of this force we can place more people with disabilities into employment situations. This occasion represents their contributions to the state, their community and the nation."

According to Tom Connelly, a disabled rehabilitation counselor, disabled people often make good, dedicated employees, though individuals may sometimes need specialized training and equipment. Connelly, brain-injured since high school, sometimes uses voice recorders and special dictation software to complete his work.

"Thank God we have those assistance devices to help us," Connelly said. "It shows the nation is coming around."