October 6, 2017
by: Emily Hastings
National Disability Employment Awareness Month – “Inclusion Drives Innovation”
This month is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), an annual awareness campaign that takes place each October. The purpose of NDEAM is to educate the public about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions and achievements of America’s workers with disabilities. This year’s theme is “Inclusion Drives Innovation.”
The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month 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. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
“Americans of all abilities must have access to good, safe jobs,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “Smart employers know that including different perspectives in problem-solving situations leads to better solutions. Hiring employees with diverse abilities strengthens their business, increases competition, and drives innovation.”
Held annually, NDEAM is led by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), but its true spirit lies in the many observances held at the grassroots level across the nation every year. Employers of all sizes and in all industries are encouraged to participate in NDEAM.
Employers and employees can learn more about how to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month and ways they can promote its messages – during October and throughout the year – by visiting www.dol.gov/ndeam. Suggestions range from putting up posters (found on the aforementioned website) to implementing a disability education program. Regardless, all play an important part in fostering a more inclusive workforce.