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Economy / Business

Florida's Disability Employment Awareness Month Kicks Off In Tampa

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Kathy Putnam
Sarah Goldman talks about laws she would implement if she were a legislator.

October is Disability Employment Awareness Month. 

Florida kicked off its observance of the month Thursday at Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay.

Tampa restaurateur Richard Gonzmart, who was diagnosed with dyslexia and attention deficit disorder, said that everyone has some type of ability. Businesses lose out when they dismiss people with disabilities, he said. 

"I have a young man named Brock, who's now been with us for 18 years and he suffers from Autism," Gonzmart said. "But I would take 1,200 Brocks, because [of] his passion, his demeanor."

According to a recent study from the Florida Chamber Foundation, about 30 percent of Floridians with disabilities are employed. 

Susanne Homant is the president of the Able Trust -- a foundation that seeks to provide employment for people with disabilities. She says that Disability Employment Awareness Month is beneficial for employers and their clientele. But most importantly, she said, it gives people with disabilities direction for their future. 

"These young job-seekers with disabilities can learn a little bit more about the world of work, maybe plan their education for their job or career of choice," she said. "And it actually gets businesses in tune to the talent in the workforce made up of people with disabilities."

Sarah Goldman, who has cerebral palsy, is the district secretary for Florida Rep. Kathleen Peters. Goldman said she had political ambitions of her own. 

"We need legislation that'll help people with disabilities get transportation around the community and to work," she said. "And I would love to pass a bill that helps people with disabilities keep their state and federal benefits." 

Goldman said that everyone deserves to work up to their full potential.