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National Disability Employment Awareness Month is an opportunity to reaffirm the Department of Defense’s commitment to recruit, retain, and advance individuals with disabilities throughout our workforce. It is also a time to recognize the many contributions America’s workers with disabilities make each and every across the Nation. 

The Department of Labor has chosen the 2022 theme to be, “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation.” “A strong workforce is the sum of many parts, and disability has always been a key part of the equation,” said Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy Taryn M. Williams. “People with disabilities make up a wonderfully multifaceted group. By recognizing the full complexion of our community, we can ensure our efforts to achieve disability inclusion are, in fact, truly inclusive.” 

People with disabilities are part of a diverse group that includes people with sensory, physical, and mental conditions. Disabilities cross lines of age, ethnicity, sex, race, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status. Almost everyone is likely to experience some form of disability – temporary or permanent – at some point in their life. 

Here are a few ways your organization and support Disability Employment Awareness month: 

  • Review policies 
  • Train supervisors 
  • Educate employees 
  • Publish articles on your website and newsletters 
  • Establish an employee resource group 
  • Host guest speakers 
  • Donate to a disability philanthropy  
  • Put together a care package 
  • Book club 

Check out this highly viewed TedTalk, Our Fight for Disability Rights—and Why We’re Not Done Yet for an inspiring story and reminder of the work that is left to do! 

The ideas above are just a few ways employers and their employees can participate, during October and all year long. For additional inspiration, check out Beyond NDEAM: Year-Round Employer Strategies for Advancing Disability Inclusion

The purpose of this month is to acknowledge the contributions of the disabled community to the work world and to educate the wider workforce on related issues. The working world has made great strides in terms of accessibility in the past decades; however, there is still a long way to go. With the rise of remote work, there are likely to be even more disabled professionals entering or reentering the work world in years to come. Having a disability does not bar workers from achieving amazing results and being assets to organizations, and it is vital for the workforce to both understand the struggles and potential of these individuals. 

It is also important to understand that disability is an umbrella term that encompasses a wide variety of conditions. Experiences vary, and it is important for employers and colleagues to recognize the nuances of disabled experience rather than making assumptions. National Disability Employment Awareness Month is about improving visibility for professionals with physical and mental disadvantages and about creating more welcoming and supportive work environments. It is also about celebrating the overcoming of adversity and the contributions of disabled groups and individuals to modern society. 

Though October is a time to spotlight these causes, it is important to be aware of these issues and respect and support these employees year round. 

Misty Resendez
Misty Resendez
Misty is a consultant with Purple Ink. She is passionate about DEI and women’s leadership.

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