National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month: Workplaces should include opportunities for all

Pictured above: Maria College Senior Vice President Victoria Battell (left) and Maureen O’Brien outside of the Frank E. O’Brien Jr. Student Support Center where the Office of Accessibility Services is located.  


Maria College students are each here to pave their unique pathway to academic success and eventual employment. This includes students with disabilities.

Throughout National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in March, and Autism Awareness Month in April, individuals with disabilities and support organizations like NYSID advocate for equal opportunities for academic, residential, social and employment inclusion.

Inspiring disability mindfulness is the first step in breaking down barriers and opening up these opportunities. Understanding and facilitating the needs of individuals with disabilities, whether they affect physical health, mental health or otherwise, drives inclusion. Inclusion ultimately helps reduce poverty levels that too often impact individuals with disabilities, and influences other critical issues like access to adequate health care and nutrition. It will also develop an awareness of both the needs and abilities of individuals with disabilities in the next generation of community and business leaders. Click to read a recent news article.

Studies show that including individuals with disabilities in academic and workplace settings builds morale throughout an organization. I’m proud to say that NYSID’s teams of co-workers, mentors and friends includes individuals with disabilities and those without.  

Further, I’m delighted to share that NYSID sponsors an annual assistive technology challenge that partners engineering students with disability service organizations. You’d be amazed by the innovative ideas that these future engineers create to make work environments more accessible to individuals with disabilities. I invite you to stop by our annual CREATE symposium on April 25 to see demonstrations of this year’s projects. Click for event details.

I firmly believe that we have the power to influence mindsets about inclusion for individuals with disabilities that will make a lasting impact. While at Maria, and when you move on from your college experience, I hope your awareness of the needs and abilities of individuals with disabilities will have been heightened, and that you’ll be a champion for workplaces that include opportunities for all.


Maureen E. O’Brien

President & CEO, New York State Industries for the Disabled/NYSID
Trustee, Maria College



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