Arizona DD Network and Arizona APSE Chapter Join Employment First to Celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Tucson, Arizona — September 28, 2022

The Arizona Developmental Disabilities Network, Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) Arizona Chapter, and Arizona Employment First Initiative today announced their participation in National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), an annual awareness campaign that takes place each October. NDEAM educates individuals, employers, and communities on disability employment issues and celebrates the diverse contributions of America's workers with disabilities. This year's theme is Disability: Part of the Equity Equation. Employment First proactively promotes competitive employment in the general workforce for people with any type of disability.

Arizona experiences large disparities in the number of people with and without disabilities who are employed. Nearly 73 percent of working age people, ages 16 - 64, without a disability are employed, but only a small percentage of people with disabilities - 36 percent - have jobs, according to the 2017 American Community Survey. Also in Arizona, people with a disability are much more likely to live in poverty than people without disabilities. In 2017, 30.5 percent of individuals with any type of disability lived in a household with income below the federal poverty line. 

“We are working collaboratively to increase public and business expectations about the abilities and capacities of all people with disabilities to work in the right job with the right level of support,” said Heather Wolff-Holstein, Statewide Coordinator for Arizona’s Employment First Initiative. She also said “There is growing awareness and focus on disability as part of the larger equity, diversity, and inclusion movement. Together we can transform the landscape of equitable and inclusive employment in Arizona.”
Throughout October, Employment First, AZ APSE, and the Arizona DD Network will be engaging in a variety of activities to educate the Arizona community on disability employment issues and their commitment to an inclusive work culture. These efforts include sharing personal employment stories, recognizing Governor Ducey’s Proclamation designating October as Disability Employment Awareness Month in Arizona and his support for employment for people with disabilities, identifying resources for families on the Employment First website, providing resources for businesses and trainings for employers, and promoting model employment practices. 

The Arizona DD Network is made up of the Arizona Center for Disability Law, Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, Institute for Human Development at Northern Arizona University, and the Sonoran Center for Excellence in Disabilities at the University of Arizona. APSE is the Arizona Association People Supporting Employment First (APSE) Chapter. 

“Everyone should have the opportunity to be productive, earn a living, and feel a sense of personal fulfillment from employment,” said Wolff-Holstein. 

Employers and employees in all industries can learn more about how to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month and ways they can promote its messages — during October and throughout the year — by visiting

Heather Wolff-Holstein, Statewide Coordinator, Project SEARCH; Employment Initiatives