As National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), October represents the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Americans with disabilities in the workforce. NDEAM also serves to highlight inclusive employment practices and showcase the benefits such policies can have for all workers.
Here is what you need to know about NDEAM and how you can celebrate.
NDEAM: Highlighting the Contributions of Disabled Employees
National Disability Employment Awareness Month shines the spotlight on workers with disabilities who have built this country from the ground up. Despite often facing what feels like endless barriers to equal employment opportunities, disabled workers have contributed greatly to the workforce.
NDEAM aims to eliminate some of the employment barriers that disabled individuals face throughout the country. This includes discrimination, unfair hiring and firing practices, and wage inequality.
During the month of October, Americans also celebrate all of the disabled workers who have already made their mark on our nation. Through their hard work, perseverance, and resilience, disabled members of the workforce have been improving society for many years.
The History of NDEAM in America
National Disability Employment Awareness Month wasn’t always recognized in the United States. National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week was celebrated during the first week of October starting in 1945. Almost two decades later, Congress removed the word “physically” from the title in order to acknowledge mental disabilities.
After 25 years of celebrating National Employ the Handicapped Week, Congress dedicated the entire month of October to this important cause. This helped spread awareness about Americans living with disabilities and the obstacles they faced in daily life.
Each year, the Department of Labor announces a specific theme for National Disability Employment Awareness Month. These themes highlight particular issues and relevant topics that disabled employees are currently dealing with.
NDEAM’s 2023 Theme: Advancing Access and Equity
The U.S. Department of Labor has stated that in 2023, the theme of NDEAM is “Advancing Access and Equity.” So what does this mean?
Accessibility is essential for disabled Americans to be able to live full, satisfying lives. Without accessible employment conditions and public spaces, disabled workers are often left out. The Department of Labor wants to encourage everyone to fight for accessibility and equality among disabled Americans.
Some examples of accessibility features and systems include:
- Text-to-speech functions
- Ramps for wheelchairs
- Large, easily readable text (both digital and print)
- Image descriptions
- Audible signals and warnings
These examples apply to both real-life and digital spaces. People with disabilities should never have to miss out on the conveniences of modern life.
NDEAM’s 2023 theme emphasizes the importance of accommodating and supporting disabled workers.
How to Celebrate NDEAM: Giving Back to the Disabled Community
No matter your employment status, you can help celebrate NDEAM and contribute to building a more accessible world. Here are a few creative ideas to help you get started this October.
Volunteer Your Time
Look for local organizations that directly benefit disabled people. Volunteer to help blind, deaf, and otherwise disabled people navigate everyday life. You can offer to assist them in grocery stores, shopping malls, or at home.
Talk About Disability Awareness
Don’t stay quiet about your passion for NDEAM. Talk to your friends, family, and other loved ones about the importance of equal-opportunity employment. By bringing this issue to their awareness, you may start a chain reaction of disability activism.
Stand Up Against Unfair Hiring Practices
If you are employed and notice disabled applicants or coworkers experiencing discrimination, file a report with your HR department. You can be a voice for disabled workers and stand up to unfair hiring and other employment practices.
Promote Equal Opportunities and Accessibility This October
As October rolls around, don’t forget about NDEAM. You might only be one person, but your voice and activism can facilitate plenty of positive changes for disabled Americans in the workforce.
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