As we mark the halfway point of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), NACDD celebrates NDEAM as it brings people with disabilities into the forefront of the workforce conversation, ensuring that their voices are heard. The theme for NDEAM 2021, “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion,” reflects the value in ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The roots of this month date back to 1945 when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October to be “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week”. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to “National Disability Employment Awareness Month.” Since then, the US Department of Labor has created the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) to ensure that people with disabilities are seen as valued members of the labor force and have the resources necessary to be outstanding employees.
Beth Swedeen, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities, said, “National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a time to celebrate the contributions people with disabilities bring to the workplace as valued employees and colleagues. DD Councils are key champions of NDEAM as developers and supporters of disability employment policy, storytellers who share the employment successes of people with disabilities, and as grassroots organizers that help communities see and expand opportunities for people with disabilities to showcase their strengths and abilities.” She further added that in Wisconsin, their DD Council has brought together youth with disabilities, families, providers, and entire communities to recognize the unique advantages of hiring and retaining early-career employees with disabilities. As a result, Wisconsin has seen employment rates of youth in our efforts triple within a year.”
To learn more about what your State/Territorial Council on Developmental Disabilities is doing to support employment opportunities, click here.
To celebrate the milestones and month, the DOL has created various events and activities with the theme “Increasing Access and Opportunity.” To check out all events held this month, click here.