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National Disability Employment Awareness Month – October 2023

National Disability Employment Awareness Month is marked throughout October. Interestingly enough, when the celebration started in 1945, it was called National Employ The Physically Handicapped Week. In 1962, the word ‘physically’ was removed to be more inclusive of the contributions of people with other disabilities.

History of National Disability Employment Awareness Month

National Disability Employment Awareness Month was created to educate the general public on the issues that workers with disabilities face and how employers can be more inclusive in their hiring practices.

This celebration’s history started decades ago in 1945 when Congress enacted Public Law 176, which birthed what we know today as the National Disability Employment Awareness Month (N.D.E.A.M). It was only for a week then and called National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week. In 1962, the word ‘physically’ was removed to make the celebration inclusive of individuals with disabilities that were not physical. 26-years later, the celebrations were extended to a whole month by Congress and renamed National Disability Employment Awareness Month in 1988.

Another major step in the evolution of N.D.E.A.M came some years later in 2001 when the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) was formed as an offshoot of the U.S. Department of Labor. ODEP took over the management of the N.D.E.A.M and was responsible for choosing the theme for each year, which usually happens at the beginning of the year to give companies and individuals more time for preparation.

This year marks 76 years since the National Disability Employment Awareness Month was first celebrated. Organizations, companies, and individuals are encouraged to participate in spreading the word, especially at the grassroots level, where any form of outreach can be most effective. After all, it is for a whole month, lots of time to get things done!

National Disability Employment Awareness Month timeline

Congress Enacts Public Law 176

Congress establishes National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.

Inclusivity Upgrade

‘Physically’ in the name is dropped to make it more inclusive.

A New Name is Born

The name changes to National Disability Employment Awareness Month

ODEP Launches

The Office of Disability Employment Policy takes over the management of N.D.E.A.M.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month FAQs

Why is National Disability Employment Awareness Month recognized?

N.D.E.A.M was established to shine a spotlight on the varied contributions of individuals with disabilities to the workforce and economy of the United States. Their hard work in various sectors has helped bolster the economy in no small way.

What was the 2021 National Disability Employment Awareness Month Theme?

The theme for last year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month was — America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion. It pointed out the importance of ensuring that individuals with disabilities have employment opportunities as the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

What color ribbon represents special needs?

Yellow and blue ribbons are the awareness ribbons for developmental disabilities. If you want to show some support, wear those colors!

How to Observe National Disability Employment Awareness Month

  1. Review your company policies

    A great way to show support to employees is to take time to review your company's culture by double-checking that those with disabilities are included.

  2. Hold a discussion

    The N.D.E.A.M is the perfect opportunity to organize discussions, especially for students, centering around disability employment. This is especially important because they are at an age when they are considering career options and having all this information will help them make the right choices.

  3. Create an N.D.E.A.M press release

    This is a good tip for government agencies, legislators, and policymakers. Formal statements reiterating the commitment of the state to foster inclusive workplace culture for employees with disabilities will highlight the importance of this holiday.

5 Facts About National Disability Employment Awareness Month That Will Blow Your Mind

  1. It started after World War II

    N.D.E.A.M. discussions were triggered by veterans with disabilities returning home.

  2. Truman started it all

    President Harry S. Truman approved the resolution to start N.D.E.A.M.

  3. Justin Dart Jr. is the hero

    The human rights activist is regarded as the “father” of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  4. The D.o.D is a fierce supporter

    The U.S. Department of Defence employs thousands of individuals with disabilities.

  5. ODEP is in charge

    The Office of Disability Employment Office (ODEP) is responsible for running the N.D.E.A.M.

Why National Disability Employment Awareness Month is Important

  1. N.D.E.A.M educates the public

    One of the reasons why N.D.E.A.M is important is that it highlights the struggles of people with disabilities. This is especially true in the labor market where it may not be as easy for disabled individuals to get jobs.

  2. N.D.E.A.M creates job opportunities

    The National Disability Employment Awareness Month is a great period for people with disabilities to get jobs. Many states organize job fairs that connect people with disabilities and organizations.

  3. N.D.E.A.M helps individuals with disabilities acquire skills

    Several initiatives make this period special for people with disabilities. Some states partner with local health care institutions and community colleges to help individuals with disabilities acquire marketable skills that can help them get jobs.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month dates

2023October 1Sunday
2024October 1Tuesday
2025October 1Wednesday
2026October 1Thursday
2027October 1Friday
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