How can I help with National Disability Employment Awareness Month ?
Author: Attorney Lonnie Roach
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Each year the contributions of workers with disabilities are celebrated during the whole month of October.
This year’s theme, “The Right Talent, Right Now,” emphasizes the important role people with disabilities play in America’s workforce, particularly during a period of low unemployment and strong worldwide competition that creates a demand for skilled workers.
This month recognizes and calls attention to the employment potential of people with disabilities who often do not have the same opportunities as people who are not disabled.
The observance originally began in 1945 with “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week”, established by Harry S. Truman.
Truman personally experienced disability early in life.
Before age 10, he had diphtheria which paralyzed him for several months and likely contributed to his lifelong poor vision. He also suffered heart disease beginning in the early years of his presidency.
It is easy to imagine that these events led to his compassionate public policy on disabilities.
Social Security expanded significantly under the Truman administration, but did not include the disabled. Truman believed in improving and expanding benefits. In his January 10, 1949 budget message to congress, he strongly advocated for adding disability to Social Security. He routinely pushed congress for a national health insurance program, along the lines of Medicaid, but his ideas were dismissed as “socialized medicine”. Truman’s legacy on disabilities may not have the same impact as his foreign policy decisions, but they helped lay a path for our current program.
The first “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week” established a tradition of an annual proclamation in favor of employing the handicapped and accommodating them in the workforce which continues to this day.
This year’s speech from Obama focused on accessibility and the actions the federal government is taking to hire more workers with disabilities. In 1955, Eisenhower changed Truman’s committee which focused on promoting the week into a permanent committee dedicated to advocating for the employment of the physically handicapped.
President Kennedy empowered the committee to develop employment opportunities for both mentally and physically handicapped workers in 1962.
It was not until 1988 that the week expanded into the entire month of October. Under President Ronald Regan, “National Employ the Handicapped Week” became “National Disability Employment Awareness Month”.
Today, the awareness campaign is largely managed by the U.S. Department of Labor.
This year’s theme is #InclusionWorks. Employment for those with disabilities has gone up recently. It has been suggested that this is due to a recovering economy. However, employment data for the disabled demographic has only been tracked since 2008, so it is unknown how seasonal trends may impact this figure. Regardless, it is clear that those with disabilities have a lot to bring to the workforce. The #InclusionWorks hashtag was chosen because, in the words of Jennifer Sheehy, deputy assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy: “Our nation’s most successful companies proudly make inclusion a core value. They know that inclusion works. It works for workers, it works for employers, it works for opportunity, and it works for innovation.”
If you have been denied disability don’t give up! Contact a Disability lawyer at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and get the benefits you deserve.
Everyone can take part in National Disability Employment Awareness Month to recognize individuals with disabilities as skilled and valuable employees and encourage hiring them.
There are a variety of ways employers and associations can spread awareness of these important issues.
- Create a display as a reminder of your company’s commitment to inclusiveness (Posters can be downloaded from the Department of Labor website; see www.dol.gov/odep/topics/ndeam) or feature National Disability Employment Awareness Month in your company newsletter or website
- Review employment policies to ensure fair hiring practices and an inclusive workplace culture
- Create an employee resource group or network to offer employees an opportunity to connect with other employees with similar backgrounds
- Post your company’s support of NDEAM on social media
- Train supervisors to create an inclusive workplace by reviewing hiring practices, company procedures and workplace accommodations for different disabilities
- Educate employees regarding the ADA and disability inclusion
- Publish informative articles in your company newsletter, magazine, or website on topics of general interest to employees with disabilities, such as how to request a workplace accommodation
- Participate in Disability Mentoring Day (Third Wednesday of October). DMD promotes career development for students and job-seekers with disabilities through career exploration and mentoring
- Post a link on the organization website publicizing National Disability Employment Awareness Month
- Post a message to members from the President regarding NDEAM on the organization website or via email
- Organize an event or presentation for local employers that focuses on hiring people with disabilities and its benefits
- Hold a poster contest for children and recognize winners at a later reception
- Develop a disability employment webpage with tools and resources for employers so they can better understand the issues and create an inclusive workplace
In recognition of NDEAM, Austin’s PBS station, KLRU, will air a special one-hour installment of ATX Together in October.
This town hall program will discuss the employment challenges as well as the successes of individuals in Austin who have disabilities. It will also examine how local employers can be encouraged to hire people with disabilities and highlight some local employers and agencies who are creating employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
Also on television during National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the stories of three young people, each living with an intellectual disability, will be told on Intelligent Lives.
Narrated by Academy Award winning actor Chris Cooper, the program follows these young adults as they navigate high school, college, and the workforce with the support of family, friends, and colleagues. Intelligent Lives will premiere on the WORLD Channel October 22 at 8 p.m. ET (7 p.m. CT and 9 p.m. PT).
National Disability Employment Awareness Month is an opportunity for everyone to learn about employment issues facing individuals with disabilities and appreciate their skills and potential.
Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you not able to work due to accident or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.
Author: Attorney Lonnie Roach has been practicing law for over 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Roach obtained board certifications from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Lonnie is admitted to practice in the United States District Court – all Texas Districts and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Highly experienced in Long Term Disability denials and appeals governed by the “ERISA” Mr. Roach is a member of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, Austin Bar Association, and is a past the director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association (Director 1999-2005) Mr. Roach and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.
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