October – National Disability Employment Awareness Month
National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is celebrated in October of each year. The awareness or recognition of disability awareness dates back to August 1945, “[W]hen 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. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to ‘National Disability Employment Awareness Month.’ Upon its establishment in 2001, ODEP assumed responsibility for NDEAM and has worked to expand its reach and scope ever since.”1 The event was originally designed to recognize soldiers who were injured or made disabled as a result of WWII but were able to still become a functioning part of the working public. Over the years, this month has grown to recognize and include all people with disabilities and how their contributions should be celebrated in the workplace.
The theme for NDEAM’s 2020 celebration is “Increasing Access and Opportunity.” This year also marks the 75th anniversary of this event and the 30th anniversary of this awareness being connected to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was passed in 1990. The Department of Labor (DOL) lists many initiatives and ways for Americans with disabilities to be celebrated for their work during this month. In its press release of this historic event, DOL states on its website,2
“People with disabilities are experienced problem solvers with a proven ability to adapt,” said Office of Disability Employment Policy Deputy Assistant Secretary, Jennifer Sheehy. “Now more than ever, flexibility is important for both workers and employers. National Disability Employment Awareness Month celebrates the ingenuity people with disabilities bring to America’s workplaces.”
NALA members and affiliates looking for ways to celebrate this month can check out https://www.dol.gov/agencies/odep/initiatives/ndeam/associations for great ideas.
Written by Adrienne D. Berry, CP
2 As quoted in the June 30, 2020 press release. https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/odep/odep20200630