October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and everyone is encouraged to participate! The purpose of National Disability Employment Awareness Month is to bring awareness to disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.
Held annually, National Disability Employment Awareness Month is led by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, but its true spirit lies in the many observances held at the grassroots level across the nation every year. Employers of all sizes and in all industries are encouraged to participate in NDEAM.
Making a Local Impact
Earlier this month, Cascade Community Connections team member Lani Paterson gave the following speech to the Port Townsend Chamber of Commerce:
We at Cascade Community Connections, having achieved our 5th year as a company here in Jefferson County, WA, hereby mark the 76th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. We resolve to continue working with self-advocates to pursue the goals of opportunity, full participation, economic self-sufficiency, and independent living. Building inclusive communities requires contribution from each of us, and we reaffirm our commitment to the growth of a community that increases access and opportunities for all.
From the desk of President Joe Biden, in an excerpt from his Proclamation on National Disability Employment Awareness Month for 2021: “Despite the progress our Nation has made in recent decades, people with disabilities are still too often marginalized and denied access to the American dream. Americans with disabilities — particularly women and people of color — have faced long-standing gaps in employment, advancement, and income. The COVID-19 pandemic has compounded these inequities, as people with disabilities have faced heightened risks — particularly the disproportionate share of people with disabilities employed in the hardest-hit industries. Our Nation will never fully recover and rebuild unless every single community — including disabled Americans — is fully included.”
Further, in an excerpt from the Jefferson County Commissioners, proclaimed and signed today, October 18th, 2021, “Washingtonians with disabilities only represent 6% of the State’s approximately 3.4 million labor force of working age individuals”
We call upon the Port Townsend City Council to observe October with appropriate programs and activities for National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and to advance the important message that people with disabilities add value and talent to our workplaces and communities. We encourage the Port Townsend City Council to take steps, this month and throughout the remainder of the year, to encourage employers to recruit, hire, retain, and advance individuals with disabilities. We urge the City council to achieve this through policies put forth by the council and by leading through example.
How can Businesses and Organizations participate in NDEAM this month, and year-round?
For Employers, NDEAM is the perfect time to jump-start inclusivity efforts. Each October, the Department of Labor provides multiple resources and tools to help this month and year-round. We’ve compiled a list of ideas and tools to help get you started:
Sample NDEAM Participation Press Release – use this press release to announce your NDEAM participation and use it to highlight your efforts in building a more inclusive workplace and community.
Create a Display – Download and print, or order an official copy of this year’s NDEAM 2022 poster. Display the poster on break room bulletin boards and other locations employees may frequent.
Review Policies – Take this time to review your current company policies to ensure they match your commitment to building a more inclusive workplace. Share your mission with staff and customers throughout the month.
Train Supervisors – Make October your annual time to train or retrain supervisors on the role they play in building a more inclusive workplace. Here are some reading materials from Cascade you can use in your training:
How to be more Inclusive of Autism in the Workplace
10 Benefits of Hiring Employees with Disabilities
Creating Meaningful Partnerships with Local Employers – an Interview with Lani Peterson
Educate Staff – From onboarding to day-to-day operations, it’s important your entire staff is aware of workplace policies and practices related to disability inclusion.
Share Your Efforts on Social Media – Share your mission of inclusivity with your social media followers throughout the month with the hashtags: #NDEAM #NDEAM2022. Other NDEAM social media resources can be downloaded here.
Partner with Organizations like Cascade – Together we can provide more opportunities to local adults with developmental or intellectual disabilities who want to find meaningful, gainful employment. Click here for more details or contact us to learn more.