October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)! Organized by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), this month is meant to celebrate individuals with disabilities and the important contribution they make to the workforce. This year’s theme is “Inclusion Drive Innovation,” as individuals with disabilities bring different perspectives into the workplace that strengthen business and creates innovation.
The White House released a presidential proclamation recognizing NDEAM, which has been celebrated under different names since 1945 originally as a week-long observance.
A host of resources are available to help individuals with disabilities find meaningful employment that is right for them, including:
The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) – non-regulatory federal agency that promotes policies and coordinates with employers
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) – free, expert, confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues
Employment Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) – free resource that helps employers advance employment for people with disabilities
The LEAD Center – promotes innovation in policy, employment, and economic advancement to advance change
National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD) – gather information about employment for youth with disabilities.
Partnership on Employment and Accessible Technology (PEAT) – foster collaboration and action around accessible technology in the workplace
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 17.9% of individuals with disabilities were employed. America can do more to create a more inclusive work force to drive innovation in business across the country. There are still 15 more days in October for us to spread the word and share awareness about this important issue. Check out the NDEAM website to find opportunities to participate in your community.