Employment of people with disabilities has a rich and often very difficult history. Determined to gain equal access and opportunity to education, jobs, and even entry into buildings, people with disabilities demonstrate some of the greatest grit our nation has to offer. In this blog, you will learn more about this striking history and why National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) and its mission is important to our overall success in our work and as a nation as a whole.
In the months leading up to the 1990’s signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), landmark legislation that afforded equal rights to people with disabilities, the bill stalled in the House of Representatives. Having already been disenfranchised, discriminated against and segregated, hundreds of protesters descended upon Washington on March 12, 1990 in protest.
This compelling protest in action turned a spotlight on the architectural barriers eliminating many people with disabilities’ access to opportunity. This demonstration also perfectly illuminates the resolve and the power of people with disabilities to prove their ability to get the work done. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990.
ADA and NDEAM Anniversaries
This year, we celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the signing of the ADA as well as the 75th Anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). There are a multitude of ways corporations can celebrate NDEAM throughout October and carry the mission on throughout the year.
When asked about the most important aspect of NDEAM, Gerald Homme, Manager of Talent Acquisition and Technology for Bender Consulting Services, reported, “For me, the answer to this seems straightforward. The most important aspect of NDEAM is the E, Employment. There is no better way to celebrate NDEAM than to hire a person with a disability on your team.”
Recognizing, Celebrating and Innovating During NDEAM and Beyond
NDEAM is also a natural time for companies to review hiring policies and practices to ensure they offer a level playing field for people with disabilities as well as train current employees on inclusivity and disability etiquette. Diverse work teams that are actively inclusive yield better results, a sense of belonging for teammates, and enhanced innovation. Check out this great 30-day activity list of ideas from the U.S. Department of Labor you can consider implementing at your company.
As we face a pandemic, it is increasingly important for employers to look for inventive ways to address an ever-changing market, and employees with disabilities are up to the challenge. People with disabilities offer unique perspectives often resulting from a seasoned ability to think outside the box and solve problems. Imagine that you are a person who utilizes a wheelchair. You have solved and overcome a multitude of obstacles before even entering your workspace. Imagine what that creative ability can do for a company’s bottom-line.
Free Resources to Get You Started:
- Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN): Inclusion@Work: A Framework for Building a Disability-Inclusive Organization: https://askearn.org/training-center/inclusionwork-trainings-webinars/#inclusion_overview
- Job Accommodation Network (JAN): Disability Etiquette: https://askjan.org/topics/disetiq.cfm
There may be a cost associated with the resources below:|
Note: EDSI gains no profit or benefit from these resources.
iDisability Civil Rights Module: https://idisability.benderconsult.com/mod/page/free_module_get_email.php
Resources to support employers during COVID: https://idisability.benderconsult.com/mod/page/view.php?id=407