Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider recognized three local organizations for facilitating employment and increasing access for people with disabilities on Wednesday morning at the 10th annual Mayor’s Awards.

DuPont received an award for accommodating an employee with a changing disability. Otojoy received an award for providing civic leadership in “Loop Santa Barbara,” a public awareness campaign to promote the usage of hearing loop technology to obtain equal access for individuals with hearing loss. The Lobero Theatre was also honored for numerous renovations to create equal and aesthetic access to the arts.

Keynote speaker Cherie Alvarez, president of Hearing Loss Association of America-Santa Barbara Chapter, presented on disability from her unique perspective.

Mayor Schneider spoke as well, describing disability employment as “not just about hiring, but about a continuum of inclusion.”

She acknowledged the progress to date, but encourage local employers to “expect, employ and empower” people with disabilities.

October is National Disability Month, and this year’s theme is just that: Expect, Employ, Empower.

— Heather Wennergren represents the Mayor’s Organizing Committee.