October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), a national initiative that turns the spotlight on hard-working employees with disabilities and workplace practices that encourage inclusivity and diversity. Read on for this year’s theme, and for ways your organization can celebrate NDEAM all month long.
Did you know? October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The month-long event celebrates American workers with disabilities, and brings attention to the importance of diversity in the workforce – and the policies and practices that employers can adopt to promote inclusivity. The initiative is organized by the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), which works to create employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
The event was officially declared in 1988, but its roots go back to 1945, when the first week in October was named “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” The objective was to educate the public about employment and disabilities, which remains at NDEAM’s core today. By 1962, the name was changed to make it more inclusive of all disabilities, and in 1988 it was expanded into a full month.
This year, the theme is “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation.” To see themes from past years, see this post from 2020, and this one from 2021. The ODEP website explains that this year’s theme recognizes the “important role people with disabilities play in a diverse and inclusive American workforce.” To celebrate, ODEP provides tips with their “31 Days of NDEAM.”
How Organizations Can Celebrate NDEAM This Year
If you’re not exactly sure how to celebrate National Disability Awareness Month, ODEP has an achievable task for every day of the month. Participating in each one – or even just a few – is how big changes happen. To get the celebrations started, we have the first 10 days outlined below:
Day 1: Put up an NDEAM poster. Share this year’s poster around your workplace or internal digital channels to kick off the month and spread awareness.
Day 2: Review company policies. Ensure your workplace is inclusive and equitable. Need help getting started? Visit Inclusion@Work: A Framework for Building a Diversity-Inclusive Organization.
Day 5: Issue an NDEAM press release. NDEAM offers a fill-in-the-blank template that can be issued to employers and organizations in the community.
Day 6: Participate in Disability Mentoring Day. Officially observed on the third Wednesday in October, this initiative promotes career development for youth.
Day 7: Use social media to promote your activities. Include the hashtag #NDEAM and learn how to make your tweets more accessible.
Day 8: Establish an Employee Resource Group (ERG). And if your organization already has one, NDEAM is a great opportunity to remind employees about it.
Day 9: Hold a discussion. If you need some help getting started, the “I Can” campaign can help.
Day 10: Organize an assembly. School assemblies are a good place to discuss career opportunities in a way that is inclusive of all students.
That’s just the beginning – head to ODEP’s page to check out their tips for the rest of the month. That’s also where you can find valuable resources, such as posters, social media kits, and drop-in articles.
Choosing Whether or Not to Disclose Your Disability
Reentering the workforce with a disability can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially if you’re doing so with a newly acquired disability. If you’re wondering if and when you should disclose your disability, remember that you're not required to do so. It’s a highly personal and individual decision.
In addition, the Americans with Disabilities Act protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination in the workplace. If you're returning to work with a newly-acquired disability, it's a good idea to get familiar with the various laws and protections.
While you don’t have to disclose your disability, you may find that doing so will give you confidence to show up as your authentic self and help explain any gaps in your work history.
If you’re unsure when you might like to disclose or would like some tips on how to do so, we offer some guidance for disclosing your disability in our blog.
As an employment agency for people with disabilities, Galt Foundation fully supports this initiative and encourages other employers to take part in NDEAM this October.
If you are an individual with a disability who needs help finding employment – or you know someone with a disability who is looking for work – check out our job opportunities here.
Please don’t hesitate to contact the friendly associates at Galt Foundation. You can reach us here, or call us at 1-877-361-1277. We’d be happy to help.