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America’s Recovery: Powered By Inclusion: Gearing Up for National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)

NDEAM 2021 begins on October 1 with the theme “America’s Recovery: Powered by inclusion.” This underscores the “importance of ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.” Each year NDEAM recognizes the contributions of people with disabilities to the nation’s workplaces and economy. Observances can be held by employers, educators, government officials, and disability organizations. The U.S. Department of Labor and its Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) offers extensive resources for planning NDEAM events, including a poster, sample proclamation and media materials. Check out their resources for National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2021.

Virtual NDEAM Events

September 30: Federal Priorities and NDEAM 2021

The 18-month-long – and counting – pandemic has transformed our world and the employment landscape for workers with disabilities. The federal government “is actively working to capitalize on the accessibility gains made by remote work…” and seeks to institute policies to ensure the safety of workers in a wide range of sectors of the economy. This webinar from RespectAbility, taking place September 30 at 1 pm EDT, will feature leading federal officials discussing their work and plans for the coming months. Find out more and register for Federal Policy Priorities on Disability Employment: NDEAM 2021 and Beyond.

October 13: Celebrating the Role of Persons with Disabilities in the National Recovery From the Pandemic

Helen Keller Services is hosting its second nationwide Zoom National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) free event on October 13 at 2 pm EST. The event features Dr. Richard Pimentel, Senior Partner at Milt Wright & Associates, Inc. as keynote speaker and a number of panelists representing vocational rehabilitation and employment resources. Dr. Pimentel is recognized as a leading expert regarding practical issues related to disability inclusion, management, overcoming workplaces challenges and barriers, and employment opportunities – as well as the “COVID return to work and the Americans with Disabilities Act.” For more information and to register, check out Helen Keller Service’s event for National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2021.

Looking Back: A Brief History of NDEAM

By Ahmat Djouma

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) has been observed since 1945.  Its origins can be traced to a law passed by Congress that year declaring “the first week of October…as National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” The observance was renamed National Disability Employment Awareness Month in 1988 to reflect the employment needs of “individuals with all types of disabilities,” to recognize the role of workers with disabilities in keeping the nation’s economy strong, and to reaffirm the commitment to equal opportunity for all.  Subsequently, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and federal education legislation in 1975 added momentum. The passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 further guaranteed access. One of the most comprehensive disability rights initiatives, the ADA prohibits discrimination in “job application procedures, hiring, advancement, termination, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment.”  Later, the government enacted the Telecommunications Act, executive orders and tax credits to encourage the hiring of people with disabilities and to celebrate the work and accomplishments of those who are disabled. This also marked an effort to heighten public awareness and education about the need to be more inclusive.  Progress has been made for employment of individuals with disabilities, but more work remains to be done.  To learn more, visit the website of the Library of Congress and check out the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)’s piece on Disability & Employment: A Timeline. For more on the history, from Wikipedia: National Disability Employment Awareness Month.