National Disability Employment Awareness Month
National Disability Employment Awareness Month is observed in October every year to commend and applaud the numerous contributions of American workers with disabilities as well as to create greater awareness about issues related to disability employment. In 1945, Congress dedicated a week to encourage businesses to employ individuals with physical disabilities (Department of Labor, 2016). In 1988, it was extended to the month of October and renamed National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). NDEAM focuses on employment of individuals with all types of disabilities. Since 2001, the Office of Disability Employment Policy has coordinated and promoted the campaign. The office collaborates with disability-related organizations and employers nationally every year in an effort to highlight the important role that disability plays in workforce diversity.
The theme for this year’s NDEAM is Inclusion Works. The theme emphasizes that individuals with disabilities enrich workplaces by bringing in their diverse skills, unique experiences and innovative ideas. In the news release announcing this year’s theme, Jennifer Sheehy, deputy assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy stated
Our nation’s most successful companies proudly make inclusion a core value. They know that inclusion works. It works for workers, it works for employers, it works for opportunity and it works for innovation.
~ Jennifer Sheehy
On September 30, 2016, President Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation to celebrate NDEAM that emphasized the positive value workers with disabilities add to the American workforce. He also acknowledged that more work needs to be done to ensure individuals with disabilities are afforded equal employment opportunities. Even today, individuals with disabilities are twice as likely to be unemployed compared to individuals without disabilities and their workforce participation rate is one third of that of individuals without disabilities (Department of Labor, 2016). Underscoring this year’s theme for NDEAM, President Obama said
When we diversify our workforce, we create opportunities for growth and improvement – not just for those with disabilities, but for everyone.
~ President Obama
Disability Services strives to provide Georgia State students with disabilities with the tools by which they can access their education and accomplish their career goals including providing accommodations for students who work on campus or participate in internships and practica as part of their academic programs. Furthermore, Disability Services directs registered students to resources which can provide career support and connect them to potential employers. The Lime Network is a nonprofit organization which offers professional development webinars, internship opportunities and full-time employment opportunities to high-potential students with disabilities in collaboration with its corporate partners. To explore all the services and opportunities that the network presents, please visit Lime Network.