National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is an annual reminder during the month of October. We recognize individuals with disabilities who are employed and discuss why employment should be an essential part of the lives of people with disabilities. The most influential part of NDEAM is bringing local communities together to talk about employment issues. As you read this article you will find reasons to celebrate and ways to be an active participant in NDEAM.
National Disability Employment Awareness Month is important in two ways. First, we are recognizing people with disabilities as a part of a team in their workplaces. Second, we are educating the public about issues regarding employment for people with disabilities.
Empower Possibilities celebrates NDEAM because employment is a human right. Employment is how society judges adults and having a job makes a person with a disability more like everyone else. Having a job gives individuals with disabilities dignity, respect, and independence.
The participation of advocates and self-advocates in NDEAM will educate, empower, and engage people with different backgrounds and interests in order to make employment possible for all.
Five strategies employers can do during or beyond October to increase access and opportunity for people with disabilities.
Gather Ideas from Your Corporate Disability Employee Resource Group
Does your organization have a disability-related Employee Resource Group (ERG)? Start your planning efforts there. The members of disability ERGs (sometimes called Business Resource Groups or Affinity Groups) are well-positioned to help you brainstorm activities, speakers, and topics to include in your awareness-building efforts. ERGs can also serve as a talent pipeline by referring qualified job seekers with disabilities to your organization.
Hold an NDEAM Kickoff Event in October
NDEAM is a fitting time to formally launch disability employment awareness activities — and set the pace for 11 more months of activities designed to promote disability inclusion. Kickoff events can range from large-scale, multi-day celebrations to small brown bag lunches about disability issues.
Host a Disability Mentoring Day
Disability Mentoring Day (DMD) promotes career development for youth with disabilities through hands-on programs, job shadowing and ongoing mentoring. The nationwide observance is the third Wednesday of each October, but employers may choose to host events any day of the year. The American Association of People with Disabilities offers information to assist you in implementing a Disability Mentoring Day. Take advantage of this easy way to connect with great talent while providing young people with disabilities valuable career experience.
Sponsor a "Lunch and Learn" Series About Disability Issues
One easy way to maintain NDEAM momentum is to host a series of monthly "lunch and learn" events for employees. Just schedule the date and place, enlist internal or external presenters, and invite employees to come to learn about a range of disability-related subjects.
Provide Volunteer Opportunities to Your Employees
Smart employers know the benefits of employee volunteerism, which include strong team engagement, leadership development and more. In the spirit of NDEAM, why not sponsor opportunities for your staff to volunteer at local organizations that prepare people with disabilities for work?
Activities like these can help you find talented job candidates with disabilities for your organization, while breaking through barriers to empower possibilities for individuals with disabilities.