National Disability Employment Awareness Month

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October celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The 2019 theme for NDEAM is “The Right Talent, Right Now.” NDEAM revels in the contributions made by all workers with disabilities and educates the general public about the significance of having inclusivity in the workforce throughout this country. “The Right Talent, Right Now” theme was announced by the U.S Department of labor. This theme highlights the vital roles individuals with disabilities play in our economic success. 

The U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta stated that, “Individuals with disabilities offer employers diverse perspectives on how to tackle challenges and achieve success. Individuals with disabilities have the right talent, right now.” Throughout the month, people will be educated on the importance of inclusive policies and practices that will affect all Americans. This will insure that all people who want to work can work, gain access to services, and access different support systems that will empower them to achieve more.

Having the ability or opportunity to work brings so many health benefits to a person’s life. Doctors say it is good for our overall well-being and health when we can partake in work activities. Having employment helps to build a person’s self-esteem and confidence. Being at a job can keep someone busy, challenge their minds, and give opportunities to develop professionally. Individuals who work are given a sense of identity and pride in what they do.

Other health benefits of entering the work force include building a happier and healthier life compared to those who do not work. Having a job is central to individual identity, social status and roles. The individuals who can enter the work force gain great social capital. People who do not work have a higher rate of mental and physical health problems, a higher mortality rate, and higher medical consultations than those who do work.

Organizations like ACHIEVA are creating programs and initiatives that are helping individuals get to work and live more meaningful, independent lifestyles. ACHIEVA’s employment department collaborated for over five years with Giant Eagle developing a model called the “embedded inclusion liaison.” Essentially, ACHIEVA would place a disability employment specialist in the HR department of a major company. They would  provide expertise on individuals with disabilities. This liaison would give guidance to increase the amount of new hires that have a disability.

81% of adults with a developmental disability currently do not have a paid job in the community.  There are organizations that are trying to drastically decrease that percentage so every individual can be properly prepared to step out into the world and contribute to the society in which they live. This month of celebration is a reminder that there is much to be grateful for, but there is still much work that needs to be done.

References and Resources:

ACHIEVA: https://www.achieva.info/CEO-Message

The Campaign for Disability Employment: https://www.whatcanyoudocampaign.org/celebrate-ndeam/

Library of Congress: https://www.loc.gov/accessibility/disability-employment-awareness-month/