Differently abled

National Disability Employment Awareness Month begins Oct. 1. Here are some facts you may not have known.

1. More than 40 million people in the United States have a disability. This figure represents about 12 percent of the population, according to census data.

2.The most common types of disability involve difficulties with walking or independent living. More than 20 million people ages 18 and older reported having serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs in 2015, representing about 7 percent of the population, according to an analysis of census data by the Pew Research Center. Another 14 million people ages 18 and older reported having a difficult time doing errands alone due to physical, mental or emotional conditions. Among U.S. workers with a disability, the most common types are ambulatory (34 percent), hearing (31 percent), cognitive (29 percent) and vision (21 percent).

3. National Disability Employment Awareness Month traces its roots to 1945. That year, Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

4. The Americans with Disabilities Act offers vital protections for workers with disabilities. The legislation, also known as the ADA, was signed in 1990 and amended in 2008. Although it’s considered one of the nation’s most important civil rights laws, it covers nonfederal employers. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which has been amended over the years, incorporates broadly the ADA’s substantive provisions and applies them to the federal workforce, including Postal Service employees and applicants.

5. Stamps have helped raise awareness of people with disabilities. The Postal Service and its predecessor organization, the U.S. Post Office Department, have issued stamps that celebrate people with disabilities. Among the releases: a 4-cent Employ the Handicapped stamp (1960), a 6-cent Disabled American Veterans stamp (1970) and an 18-cent International Year of the Disabled stamp (1981) that features the message: “Disabled doesn’t mean Unable.”

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