Every month in October the United States Department of Labor host National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an annual awareness campaign that looks to celebrate and educate about disability employment. I’m asking you today to consider supporting this cause, hosting events in your workplace around the month and, if you haven’t already, look to employ those with disabilities in your workplace.
The idea behind NDEAM goes back to 1945 when Congress passed a law saying that the first week in October would be “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” Today almost 1 in 5 Americans has a disability in the United States showing the incredible impact a month like this can have.
I have a personal connection to the disability community in autism. I was diagnosed with autism when I was 4 and today at 28 after years of supports and therapies have been able to hold down 5 jobs as a national speaker, best-selling author, film consultant, local TV talk show host, and nonprofit founder . I now give talks to companies about Autism Spectrum Disorders in the workplace to educate about the unique abilities individuals with disabilities can have if given the opportunity.
I see a future where my high school mentees, who all have autism and are extremely bright and gifted, can transition to adulthood and succeed in the workforce. Some of them may have challenges at first but so does everyone. With the accommodations in place you may well be very surprised by what you see from each and every one of them.
To conclude Jennifer Sheehy, former deputy assistance secretary of labor for disability employment policy has said, “By fostering a culture that embraces individual differences, including disabilities, businesses profit by having a wider variety of tools to confront challenges. 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.”
Together, let’s focus on making inclusion celebrated not only in the workplace but in every place around the world. Thank you.
Want to host an event at your workplace for the month to educate and spread the word? I’ve given talks on disability employment to groups such as Google, JP Morgan Chase, PNC Bank, Wyndham Worldwide and PSE&G. I’d love to work with you as we often do Lunch-And-Learns and other types of special events around the month. Contact me here for more details.
*For those who want to learn more about National Disability Employment Awareness Month you can download free resources at The United States Department of Labor’s website here.*