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Originally published: 2013-11-07 09:50:49
Last modified: 2013-11-07 09:51:34

Our View: An able workforce

The spotlight on disability employment may not be as bright now that October, the month nationally designated to highlight awareness, has faded for the darker days of November. Yet, a UNC system project to support students with learning differences will continue to focus on concerns associated with those challenges.

Importantly, that light is now centered on three pioneering UNC schools -- with Appalachian State University joining East Carolina University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in College STAR, a multimillion-dollar support network with the potential to reach the entire UNC system.

Recent statistics indicate that the overall percentage of people with a disability of all ages in North Carolina is about 13.3 percent. The percentage among those of non-institutionalized working-age people -- ages 21 to 64 -- is nearly as high, at 11.9 percent. 

In real numbers, that means that about 1.3 million of North Carolina's 9.5 million people of all ages report a disability, according to a 2011 status report issued by Cornell University. 

That number includes more than one in 10 working-age individuals, of who only about 30 percent are gainfully employed. Another 12 percent of people in the group are willful, but unable to find employment, often due to lack of education or training.

Statistics such as these highlight the work to be done in assisting those who learn differently from other students -- and the recognition that much of that effort will begin in Boone.