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Letter: It's time to celebrate the success of North Dakotans with disabilities

This October, North Dakota has good reason to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Under Gov. Doug Burgum, 4,704 North Dakotans with disabilities got new jobs last year. People with disabilities deserve equal opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence just like anyone else.

In total, there are 43,627 working age people with disabilities living in North Dakota. That includes people who are blind or deaf or have other visible conditions such as spinal cord injuries, as well as people with invisible disabilities including learning disabilities, mental health or autism. Among them, 23,286 have jobs. North Dakota ranks first in terms of employment for people with disabilities, beating out all other states.

When people with disabilities are given access to the workforce, both the individual and the employers benefit. Companies such as JP Morgan Chase, Coca-Cola, Walgreens, UPS, IBM and Starbucks practice inclusive hiring and have had great success.

People with disabilities bring unique characteristics and talents to workplaces across all sectors of North Dakota's economy. They can work in hospitals and hotels or apply their talents to develop computer software and website design. There are no limits to what they can do.

Laszlo Mizrahi is the president and CEO of the national disability organization RespectAbility.