The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), in cooperation with Major League Baseball, is launching the PITCH (Proving Individuals with Talent Can Help) campaign to encourage businesses to hire individuals with disabilities.

Former Major League pitcher Jim Abbott will serve as the campaign’s spokesman. The campaign will include radio public service announcements, media awareness activities, and appearances at the Little League World Series as well as Major League ballparks during September and October.

Abbott, born without a right hand, was an Olympic Gold Medalist in 1988. In 1993, while pitching for the New York Yankees, he tossed a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians. He pitched 10 seasons in the major leagues with the California Angels, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, and Milwaukee Brewers.

Neil Romano, assistant secretary of labor for ODEP, says, “The goal of this campaign and of our office is to have all businesses consider the great talent that people with disabilities can bring to their organizations.”

Abbott adds, “I will do all that I can to bring attention to this issue and encourage businesses to look towards people with disabilities when they are hiring for their team.”

According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, in 2006, the employment rate for people with disabilities was 37.7 percent, compared to an employment rate of 79.7 percent for people without disabilities, a 42 percent difference. People with disabilities represent a severely underutilized talent pool.