October Is National Disability Employment Awareness Month!

Published on: October 8, 2020

Annually held every October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a period of time dedicated to celebrating the nearly 20% of people with disabilities who are employed and educate the American public about fostering a more inclusive workforce environment.

This October marks 75 years of observing National Disability Employment Awareness Month! Find out more about NDEAM and national disability employment awareness month activities that either you or office can take place in!

What Is National Disability Employment Awareness Month?

Every October, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) leads the nation in recognizing National Disability Employment Awareness Month - but there are hundreds of organizations, schools, and businesses across the nation that participate!

The goal of NDEAM is to not only celebrate the many contributions of American workers with disabilities but to also highlight employment issues faced by the disabled community. This year not only marks the 75th year of NDEAM, but also the 30th anniversary of the landmark civil rights legislation, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA has helped to increase access and opportunities for people with disabilities that previously had barriers or were difficult.  

History of National Disability Employment Awareness Month 

The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month can be traced back 75 years ago to 1945. Just after the end of World War II, Congress passed a law declaring the first week of October every year to be the "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” It took until 1962 to remove the word “physically” to acknowledge people with all types of disabilities.  

In 1988, Congress extended the week to a month, changing the name to what it is known as today: National Disability Employment Awareness Month. 

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Enacted in 1990, the ADA has played a historic role in providing equality of opportunity and economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities. Both the ADA and NDEAM have played critical roles in helping transform American culture that people with disabilities had integral value and talent communities and workplaces nationwide. 

Get Involved: National Disability Awareness Month Activities and Resources

While the Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE) encourages organizations and businesses of all sizes and industries to engage in National Disability Awareness Month activities, there are hundreds of grassroots events all over the country. 

Participation can be as simple as putting up posters in your community. If you’re looking for more comprehensive ways to become involved, the CDE has numerous activities and resources available! Some ideas are listed below.

Activities for Employers and Employees

Disability Mentoring Day: Host programs, job shadowing, or ongoing mentoring for Disability Mentoring Day. The national observance is the third Wednesday of every October, but your company can host your own Disability Mentoring Day event any time you’d like. For more information, check out the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) resources on the event. 

NDEAM Press Release: Announce a press release on local media to highlight what your workplace is doing for NDEAM and bring awareness to local involvement. 

Social Media Platforms: Feature NDEAM on your businesses’ social media or publish articles from NDEAM to recognize the month or the contributions of employees with disabilities. 

Review Policies: This month is a perfect opportunity to review whether or not your workplace is providing an inclusive workplace culture for employees with disabilities,

For more ideas and resources: check here

Activities For Educators

Organize Discussions and/or Assemblies: NDEAM is the best time to address employment and disability with students or hold an assembly to discuss the topics with guest speakers from local disability organizations.  

Disability History Education: Is there a gap of knowledge in your school when it comes to the history of the disability movement? Now would be an opportune time to provide educators with content addressing this important part of America’s heritage. 

Create Displays: Bulletin boards can be displayed with NDEAM posters or additional display materials provided by NDEAM to spread awareness of the month, 

Want some more ideas? Check out the rest of the CDE’s suggestions!

More National Disability Employment Awareness Month Activities

The CDE also provided resources and activities for:

Wherever you’re involved  - in whatever industry - there are plenty of ways to become involved and spread awareness!

Looking To Get Back to Work on Disability? Check Out These Programs

Has NDEAM made you consider going back to work? Or, have you been looking to go back to work for a while now? Whatever the case, if you’re currently on Social Security disability benefits and you’re looking to go back to work, there are several programs available to help you transition.

Working part-time while receiving disability benefits may be your best option for returning to work as the SSA knows not everyone attempting to return to work will be up to the task. For instance, the SSA allows for a Social Security disability return to work trial (as many as nine months) before terminating your benefits.

Through the SSA’s Ticket to Work program, you’ll continue to receive your benefit payments in addition to your work paycheck. However, be aware that your benefits will be adjusted based on the amount you earn by finding work after disability.

Besides Ticket to Work, the SSA provides  Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) programs, including: 

  • Earned Income Exclusion
  • Blind Work Expenses
  • Student Earned Income Exclusion
  • Plan to Achieve Self-Support
  • Property Essential to Self-Support
  • Continued Medicaid Eligibility
  • Continued Payment Under a Vocational Rehab Program

Don’t be afraid of finding work after disability! If you are looking to find what work program would work best for you, contact one of our disability advocates!


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