National Disability Employment Awareness Month

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (#NDEAM)

by Sarah Duggan, CP

October 2022

October 2022 marks the 77th observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, or NDEAM. Championed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), this annual awareness campaign celebrates the vital contributions of workers with disabilities in bolstering America’s workplaces and economy while advocating for robust educational initiatives highlighting disability employment issues in the modern workplace. In choosing this year’s theme as “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation,” Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy Taryn M. Williams emphasized how “[a] strong workforce is the sum of many parts, and disability has always been a key part of the equation. People with disabilities make up a wonderfully multifaceted group. By recognizing the full complexion of our community, we can ensure our efforts to achieve disability inclusion are, in fact, truly inclusive.”[1]

The history of NDEAM traces back to 1945 when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities and in 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.[2]

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey results for August 2022 reveal that the labor force participation rate of individuals with disabilities aged 16 years and older is currently 22.5% in comparison to 68% for individuals without disabilities within the same demographic profile.[3] In Getting to Equal: The Disability Inclusion Advantage, a 2018 research report produced jointly by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and Disability:IN (formerly known as the US Business Leadership Network), Disabilities Rights Attorney and Immediate Past Chair of the AAPD Ted Kennedy, Jr. affirmed the importance of recognizing and investing in this untapped talent pool since “[p]ersons with disabilities present business and industry with unique opportunities in labor-force diversity and corporate culture, and they’re a large consumer market eager to know which businesses authentically support their goals and dreams. Leading companies are accelerating disability inclusion as the next frontier of corporate social responsibility and mission-driven investing.”[4]

How to Celebrate #NDEAM – It’s Not Over in October

The American Bar Association[5] encourages law firms and law firm staff to join in recognizing NDEAM this month by:

  • Hosting a CLE or webinar on disability rights or disability diversity, equity, and inclusion topics
  • Inviting persons with disabilities to serve as panelists, authors, and participants in other programs
  • Ensuring that your website, digital platforms, virtual and in-person meetings and events, webinars (including CLEs), publications, marketing pieces, surveys, reports, PDFs, and all other materials are accessible for persons with disabilities and compatible with the assistive technologies they use (e.g., screen readers)
  • Ensuring that your physical office and other business spaces are fully accessible and ADA-compliant
  • Having a clear process for seeking accommodations in the workplace, and clearly articulate that process on your website and in all relevant materials
  • Forming a disability rights and/or disability diversity, equity, and inclusion committee
  • Signing the ABA Commission on Disability Rights’ Disability Diversity in the Legal Profession: A Pledge for Change, a one-page pledge for law firms, law schools, bar associations, corporations, judiciaries, and disability organizations committed to promoting and implementing disability diversity, including diversity with respect to individuals with mental, physical, and sensory disabilities within the legal profession[6]

Workplaces welcoming of the talents and unique backgrounds of all people are a critical part of our collective efforts to cultivate and expand inclusive work cultures while preserving a strong economy. The legal profession must continue to take steps throughout the year to recruit, hire, retain, and advance individuals with disabilities while prioritizing the goals of equal opportunity, full participation, economic self-sufficiency, and independent living for workers with disabilities.[7]

For more information on promoting and implementing disability diversity initiatives within your own workplace or organization, please visit and share the following additional resources:

Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN)

Job Accommodation Network – Workplace Accommodation Toolkit

Job Accommodation Network – Disability Etiquette

Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT)

The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled – Employment Resources

Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) – Building an Inclusive Workforce Reference Guide

Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) – Inclusive Internship Programs: A How-to Guide for Employers



[2] Ibid.



[5] ABA – How to Celebrate NDEAM