October is National Disability Employment Awareness (NDEAM) month. Honestly, in our opinion, we need to focus on helping disabled people find employment every month! Don’t get us wrong; national campaigns are lovely and help to raise awareness. Many people find the hashtag #NDEAM or see a friend that usually doesn’t talk about a subject suddenly shares a post. The theme for the 2019 national campaign is “The Right Talent, Right Now.”
NDEAM was started in 1945 when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year, “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” We’ve improved a lot since then. We now celebrate empowering employment awareness for an entire month. The US Department of Labor publishes fliers, articles, social media posts, and lots of tips so everyone can join the campaign. Employers of all sizes and in all industries are encouraged to participate in NDEAM. Suggestions range from simple, such as putting up a poster, to comprehensive, such as implementing a disability education program. Regardless, all play an essential part in fostering a more inclusive workforce, one where every person is recognized for his or her abilities — every day of every month.
Many organizations are working to make an inclusive workforce. Here are a few of our favorites:
- What Can You Do? Is a website funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, the Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE) is a collaborative effort among several disability and business organizations that are working to change attitudes about disability and employment. Members of the CDE meet regularly to shape and steer the campaign.
- Case for Inclusion is a comprehensive data tool that examines how well programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia are serving residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities. One of their reports from January 2019 stats how things are getting better for disabled people in Pennsylvania. “Pennsylvania is making good strides,” said Nancy Murray, president of The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh at ACHIEVA. According to the report, 17 percent of disabled individuals work in competitive employment in Pennsylvania, a decrease from 2016 and below the national average.
- DisabilityIN.org is the leading nonprofit resource for business disability inclusion worldwide. Their network of over 185 corporations expands opportunities for people with disabilities across enterprises. Disability In’s central office and 30 affiliates serve as the collective voice to effect change for people with disabilities in business. DisabilityIN Inclusion Works provides customized disability inclusion consulting for corporations and connect them to their peers. They help companies create an inclusive culture while simultaneously developing a sustainable recruitment strategy.
Creating a full inclusion workforce isn’t going to happen overnight, but with the right tools and resources, we can get there! We have to keep moving forward. If you live in Eastern Pennsylvania and need some assistance, please contact us.