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10 Ideas to Observe NDEAM and Raise Disability Employment Awareness at Work

October 04, 2019

The US Department of Labor has chosen The Right Talent, Right Now theme to observe the National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) this year. Back in 1988, the US Congress declared October as the NDEAM to raise awareness about the employment needs and contributions of differently-abled people.

The theme for 2019 underscores the role that people with different abilities play towards America’s economic success, particularly when global competition and historically low levels of unemployment are opening up job opportunities for skilled individuals. The NDEAM is administered by the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).

While the government has played its part by announcing October as the NDEAM, activities carried out by various organizations form a major part in pushing the boundaries of disability inclusion in the workplace. Here’s a list of what your organization can do to observe the NDEAM:

1. Gather ideas from your company’s disability-focused employee resource group (ERG). If your company doesn’t have an employee resource group, the NDEAM is the best time to start one. An ERG can help in identifying resources and get referrals.

2. Hold an NDEAM event in October. There are several tools and planning resources that can help you organize an event based on the 2019 theme.

3. Hold a mentoring day. Promote career development through various hands-on activities. Serve as a mentor or get involved in job shadowing.

4. Organize weekly or bi-weekly ‘Lunch and Learn’ sessions. Invite employees to share stories and exchange ideas pertaining to disability employment issues and the role of neurotypical peers to build an inclusive culture at work.

5. Provide volunteering opportunities to your staff. Volunteering can foster qualities like leadership development and team management. Holding mock interviews or simply helping someone with a disability prepare for their career can create a positive experience for everyone.

6. Promoting NDEAM on social media is one of the best ways to engage people beyond the physical confines of the workplace. Create posts that showcase the activities happening within your organization, share relevant information about the NDEAM, and remember to use trending hashtags to increase the reach of your posts.

7. Put up a display (preferably in one of the most frequented areas in the office, such as the reception desk) to rally support behind disability inclusion in the workplace.

8. Organize American Sign Language training classes for your employees.

9. Organize a campus recruitment drive. Meeting college students with disabilities is a great way to understand their challenges and aspirations firsthand.

10. Last but not the least, remind everyone that October will soon end but the need to sustain inclusive hiring efforts won’t. Disability hiring is a complex process but it’s worth the effort because of the many benefits it brings to organizations: a creative and highly focused workforce, more innovation, less gossip, low turnover, etc.