Each October, the government seeks to raise awareness about issues surrounding employment and disabilities through National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). This nationwide awareness initiative draws focus to the significant workplace contributions of workers with disabilities.
While the observance is government-led, its impact is driven by local groups and businesses across the nation. There is much your business can do to support this worthwhile initiative, beginning with becoming familiar with the events that led to the creation of this powerful tradition.
The History of National Disability Employment Awareness Month
While NDEAM was officially declared in 1988, the history of the event goes back as far as 1945. At this time, a unified Congress put Public Law 176 into place, earmarking the first week of October as National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week. The purpose of this focus was to help shine a light on the workplace contributions of individuals with disabilities.
In 1962, the government removed the word “physically” to recognize the contributions and needs of persons with all types of disabilities — and to provide them equal access to employment and benefits.
From there awareness grew, culminating in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was signed into law in 1990 by President Bush to prohibit discrimination against individuals with any disability. Following this, President Clinton signed an Executive Order in 2000 that requested our federal government provide government jobs over the next five years to 100,000 people with disabilities.
To assist with this endeavor, the government created the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) within the Department of Labor. In turn, ODEP has instituted the Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) to help improve the situations of individuals with disabilities who are receiving Social Security disability benefits and are underemployed or unemployed.
Seventy Disability Resource Coordinators assist the DEI and State Project Leads who work to increase opportunities for people with disabilities across the country. This organization is instrumental in providing guidance and organization for NDEAM.
National Disability Employment Awareness Month Activities — What Your Business Can Do
Workers with disabilities provide an essential role in America’s continuing economic success. Participating in NDEAM is the perfect way for your business to highlight and honor its fundamental contributions.
ODEP provides many national disability awareness month activities your business can co-opt to show your support. Here are several easy ways you can get involved with this important initiative:
- Get the Word Out
Display the free official NDEAM poster in your place of business to boost awareness within your organization, and use the Department of Labor’s easy-to-access, pre-written social media posts to shout out your support to followers.
This year’s theme, if you want to coordinate your efforts with the latest information, is “The Right Talent, Right Now.”
- Access the NDEAM Toolkit
ODEP makes it incredibly easy for you to show your support for NDEAM activities with a media kit and suggestions for disability inclusion in their free, downloadable toolkit.
- Participate in Disability Mentoring Day
A great way to demonstrate your commitment to disability inclusion, Disability Mentoring Day, gives businesses a platform to promote career exploration opportunities for job seekers with disabilities. Activities include on-the-job shadowing, internship opportunities, and hands-on, ongoing mentoring.
- Be Inclusive
Disability inclusion is the perfect way to help spotlight and honor the essential contributions made by workers with disabilities. By showing your support for NDEAM, you can seek out new talent by encouraging applicants with disabilities.
Reap the Benefits of a Diverse Workforce — Support NDEAM Today!
A diverse workforce that includes employees with disabilities has a lot to offer today’s savvy business. Growing your talent pool with employees that provide a multitude of perspectives enhances both creativity and productivity — a boon for any business.
Also, inclusivity reduces fear, promotes cooperation, and sets your business head and shoulders above the competition as a compassionate — and inclusive — employer.
Ready to get started? Head over to the National Disability Employment Awareness website and dive into the pre-planned disability awareness month activities — or create your own!
And, if you’re interested in working with a company that supports efforts such as NDEAM, check us out. We’re recruiting top-performing talent right now! See how you can advance your career alongside our passionate, inclusive workforce.