National Disability Employment Awareness Month began in 1945 as a campaign by the United States Department of Labor to raise awareness about employment issues for those with disabilities. It was originally called National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week, occurring the first week of October. Since then, it was expanded to an entire month and in 1988 the name was changed to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
In the years to follow, many laws have been created to assist those with disabilities in tackling issues with employment, including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Assistive Technology Act of 2004. However, persons with disabilities still face challenges with employment equality. In 2012, the employment rate of those with disabilities was 33% compared to 76% for others.
This year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month theme from the Department of Labor is Inclusion Drives Innovation. “Smart employers know that including different perspectives in problem-solving situations leads to better solutions,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta said. “Hiring employees with diverse abilities strengthens their business, increases competition, and drives innovation.”
Mainstream Living is proud to assist our members with employment training through our enclave opportunities at The Center in Ames. We work with HACH and Danfoss to provide training programs for our members that focus on skill building for future employment. At Mainstream Living, we are also honored to work with many great organizations that provide job coaches, transportation services, or training programs so that our members can obtain permanent integrated community employment.
For information on how you can help support National Disability Employment Awareness Month, visit dol.gov/ndeam or your local county office to look for volunteer opportunities.