October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)
You’ve probably heard plenty about voter registration lately, with midterm elections a short month away. However, you might be surprised to hear that, amidst national voter registration campaigns, the month of October is actually dedicated to disability employment awareness. NDEAM, or National Disability Employment Awareness Month, is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, specifically the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), and has been observed every October since 1945.
This year’s NDEAM theme is “America’s Workforce: Empowering All.” At its core, NDEAM emphasizes celebration and education. Employers may not recognize the benefits of an inclusive workforce, so NDEAM works to highlight the skills, talents, and contributions of disabled workers. NDEAM also stresses the importance of resources that ensure equal access to the American workforce.
According to the 2018 press release, found here, NDEAM is rooted in history. The campaign began in 1945 when the U.S. Senate declared the first week of October the “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” The title was changed in 1962 to reflect the diversity inherent in disability, and in 1988, the campaign became the month-long initiative known as NDEAM.
NDEAM is led at the national level, but its true strength lies in observances held all across the country. The ODEP’s webpage for NDEAM includes observance ideas for employers, educators, state agencies and officials, associations and unions, disability organizations, and agencies at the federal level. ODEP also offers general resources for NDEAM observances, which can be found here.
If you’re interested in learning more about the history of NDEAM, check out the ODEP’s interactive timeline, which explores the origins of the campaign and its evolution over the course of 70 years. The timeline also includes key events in disability employment history. You can find the interactive timeline here.
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