Celebrating Disability Awareness Month in King County

Dear fellow King County employee,

Each October, we celebrate Disability Awareness Month in King County and the many contributions that people with disabilities make to our community.

Every person deserves the opportunity to fulfil their potential, share their unique abilities, and fully participate in everything that our region has to offer. Disability Awareness Month reminds us that we must continue to break down barriers to promote inclusion and expand opportunity for all people with disabilities.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the urgency of this work. COVID-19 is having a disproportionate impact on people with disabilities who are experiencing higher rates of unemployment, reduced access to in-person care and support services, and challenges with online learning and receiving special education services. People with disabilities are also more likely to have preexisting health conditions, amplifying the risk of the virus.

King County offers many programs and services that support people with disabilities and build a more inclusive community, from specialized access to public transit to Accessible Voting Centers with audio or large print ballots and other assistive devices. We have had to adjust the way we provide many of these during the pandemic, but we are doing everything we can to ensure that people can continue to access the services they depend on.

In our own workforce, our Supported Employment Program is helping employees with developmental and intellectual disabilities find and succeed in employment opportunities in King County; our Disability Services Program is helping employees with accommodations and resources so they can continue their important work for our community, sometimes in new or adjusted roles.

These are just some of the ways we are making our community and workplace more inclusive and welcoming, but there is always more that we can do. This year, as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the 75th observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, I encourage you to look at the services you provide to see if there is a way to make them more accessible and more equitable.

Together we can build on what we have learned during this pandemic, break down remaining barriers, and make this community truly one of opportunity and access for all.