Did you know that October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month?
The US Department of Labor describes National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) as “a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities.” Each year a new theme is chosen to help recognize America’s disabled workforce and this year’s theme is “Because We Are EQUAL to the Task.”
The Joni and Friends organization estimates that only over 15% of people with disabilities are employed. Celebrating and recognizing NDEAM is so important for the empowerment of the disabled workforce. Many individuals with disabilities in the workforce face workplace discrimination, hurdles with accessible work spaces, preconceived notions and attitudes from coworkers or bosses about what they can bring to the job. Often workers with disabilities feel they have to function at over 100% capacity every day to overcompensate for such hurdles.
So how can you show support and encouragement for employers and employees? Take a look at these top 10 ideas to help celebrate NDEAM!
1. Share a Facebook post to let your friends know about NDEAM. Knowledge is empowerment so spread the word!
2. Review your workplace policies to see if they are up to date in regards to an inclusive workplace environment. Find something that could be updated? Send a suggestion to your HR department.
3. Write a letter to your editor to help raise awareness of disabled employees in your community.
4. Get creative! Create a poster or flyers. Ask your employer if you can post it on your break room’s bulletin board or create an electronic version and send out an email to your contacts, friends or family to spread the word.
5. Host a fundraiser to raise money for a disability organization in your area.
6. Research. Head to your library or go online to find out what employment and disability looks like in your area. Consider writing letters to local organizations to thank or recognize them for their commitment to a diverse workforce.
7. Volunteer at a youth organization for kids with disabilities. Encourage their interests, talents and skills that will one day help them succeed in the workforce.
8. Are you an employer or a student at a university? Consider hosting or attending a panel discussion or workshop to get diverse perspectives about accessibility and disabilities issues in your university, workplace or field of business. Check your paper for local events.
9. Say thank you to your employer for their commitment to a diverse workplace and shake the hand of an employee with a disability for their hard work and dedication.
10. Head over to http://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/ndeam/ to learn more!
Are you celebrating NDEAM? Share your plans in the comments!