October is an exciting month. In addition to marking the arrival of a crisp, new season, it also lends itself to a cheerful buzz as we anticipate the Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
But, October also has a lesser-known significance – something far less “commercial”, though no less worthy of celebration: National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).
Celebrating disability inclusion for more than 70 years, NDEAM dates back to 1945 when Congress declared the first week in October “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” Since then, NDEAM has celebrated the work contributions of individuals with disabilities each October, educating the public about the value of a diverse workforce.
This year’s theme, “#InclusionWorks”, is focused not only on conveying the importance of including members of the disabled community in the workplace, but on showing the tangible results and benefits that come from doing so.
As Jennifer Sheehy, deputy assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy, said in a statement: “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.”
As someone who works with a variety of organizations who employ individuals with disabilities – or advocate on their behalf – I couldn’t agree more. In fact, check out this ‘spotlight’ on one such organization, the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department (we’ll be doing several more of these throughout the month).
Significant progress has been made. But, as a recent article from U.S. News & World Report, “Clocked Out for Good”, stresses, there is great room for improvement.
I am confident, however, that with increased effort and awareness, more and more people will begin to see the value of creating an inclusive social, school and work community.
As part of our celebration of NDEAM, we’re extending a special thank you to all our ‘friends’ who help make Aunt Laurie’s possible, but, more importantly, help provide work opportunities for people with disabilities:
- Programs for Exceptional People
- Waggies by Maggies
- Our Coffee with a Cause
- South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department
- Lambs Farm
- Extraordinary Ventures
- Berry Towne Crafts
- SMILE Biscotti
- Leader Dogs for the Blind
- Heroes on Horseback
- SOAR Special Recreation
- The Chocolate Spectrum
- Autism, Inc.
- Action for Autism
- South Carolina Special Olympics
- Lowcountry Down Syndrome Society
- See details on all organizations here.
Learn more about National Disability Employment Awareness Month and how you can get involved here.