October may bring to mind visions of falling leaves, pumpkin patches, apple cider and Halloween. But October is also National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), which recognizes and celebrates the contributions of American workers with disabilities.
NDEAM has been recognized in one form or another since 1945 and the 2016 theme is #InclusionWorks. And it's true - hiring people with disabilities benefits both employers and employees in a variety of ways.
Here are some ways you can recognize NDEAM this year:
Display #InclusionWorks materials.
Show your employees, customers and visitors that diversity is valued in your workplace by displaying #InclusionWorks posters. The US Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy offers posters in English and Spanish, which you can either order through their website or download and print. Or you can make your own.
Take a history lesson.
Are you familiar with the history of disability employment in the United States? Scroll through the DOL’s timeline to learn more about major events around the employment of people with disabilities, including the landmark passages of the Wagner-O’Day Act in 1938 and the Javits-Wagner-O’Day Act in 1971, which require federal agencies to procure certain supplies and services from nonprofits employing people with disabilities.
Establish a relationship with a local nonprofit.
You might not be proactively recruiting candidates with disabilities, or know how to reach them. Reaching out to a local nonprofit dedicated to working with people with disabilities and establishing a partnership is a great way to connect with candidates, and to start thinking about how your organization can appeal to a wider array of candidates with disabilities.
Host a lunch & learn.
Hosting an educational lunchtime event is a great way to recognize the month of October. Try bringing in a speaker to discuss such topics as accommodations, how to talk about disability or the experience of finding and retaining employment as a person with a disability. Starting dialogue among your employees and raising awareness are what NDEAM is all about.