October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. This year's theme, "A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?", includes an invitation to get involved, get motivated, and get the word out on making an impact in the workplace for those with disabilities.
There are countless ways you can get involved so that the people you work with can increase their awareness of NDEAM. Examples include; creating a disability Employee Resource Group (ERG), reviewing policies and updating them as necessary, training supervisors, employees and managers, or even creating a display highlighting this important aspect of work.
According to the NDEAM website: The purpose of National Disability Employment Awareness Month is to educate about 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.
The President even signed a proclamation outlining the Federal Government's commitment to all disabled workers and supporting this important aspect of American work life:
"Because America's workforce should reflect the diversity of its people -- including people with disabilities -- my Administration remains committed to helping our businesses, schools, and communities support our entire workforce. To meet this challenge, the Federal Government must be a model employer. That is why I was proud to sign an Executive Order in 2010 that called on Federal agencies to increase recruitment, hiring, and retention of people with disabilities. In 2012, the Office of Personnel Management reported on our progress, revealing that we are moving toward meeting our goal of hiring an additional 100,000 people with disabilities into the Federal workforce over 5 years. Today, more people with disabilities work for the Federal Government than at any time in the past 20 years, and we are striving to make it easier to get and keep those jobs by improving compliance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act."
Assistant Secretary Office of Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez blogged that people need to understand the value of work and the impact of work in our lives.
"Put simply, work is fundamental to identity. It means so much more than a paycheck; it offers purpose and the opportunity to lead a more independent, self-directed life for all people - including millions of Americans with disabilities."
"I say this with conviction because I am one of those millions of people."
Kathy Martinez is blind.
She shared a story on her blog about how her Father prepared her for this disability at a very young age. Not one to let her avoid her household chores, her Dad discussed the potentially unique challenge of a blind person completing a common household task - mowing the lawn.
"I was born blind. My sister Peggy was also born blind. We were the middle of six children, and there was no diagnosis for our blindness. But from a young age, our parents instilled in us an assumption of work, starting with household chores. Among other things, I had to mow the lawn. People often inquire how this worked. When I asked my father how I would know which part I had cut and which I still had to do, his response was 'You're going to have to take off your shoes.'
I can't lie. Like most children, I didn't relish chores. But the message my parents sent by requiring me to do them has made all the difference in my life. It taught me the value of work. As Henry Ford once said, 'There is joy in work. There is no happiness except in the realization that we have accomplished something.' I agree wholeheartedly. Indeed, work is essential to my self-fulfillment; it's a huge part of who I am. It's the same for Peggy."
She went on to state that when it comes to building a strong and inclusive workforce, we all have a role to play. Whether or not you have a disability, everyone at the workplace needs to contribute to the cause for the benefit of everyone.
Here's how you can get involved:
Download the National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2012 Resource Toolbox.
Share this information with your Organization with these drop-in articles.
Create a Press Release about NDEAM 2012 and tell others about it.
Spread the word using Facebook, Twitter, or other Social Media.
For more information, visit the NDEAM 2012 website.
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