One might wonder what digital accessibility has to do with the 75th observance of the National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
According to Jennifer Sheehy, Deputy Asst. Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy “Accessibility, and in particular, accessible and inclusive technology – is the key to both employment success for many people with disabilities and delivering on the ADA’s promise for the next 30 years and beyond.” ~ NDEAM 2020 – Building a Future that Works (video)
So whether we realize it or not, the work we do in making our websites and other digital assets accessible very well may be the reason that employment is possible and sustainable for a person or persons with disabilities in our workplace. Not only that, we are helping ensure that the spirit and laws of the ADA are carried out and made good. Did I mention it is also the 30 year anniversary of the ADA? October is a very busy month for accessibility!!
A brief history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month
Back in 1945, the United States government wanted to raise awareness and educate the public on issues related to people with disabilities in the workplace while also promoting the contributions made by those individuals. It was that year that congress declared the first week in October as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.”
Then in 1962, the word “physically” was removed from the title in order to acknowledge people with all types of disabilities. That one week got expanded to the entire month of October and in 1988, U.S. Congress officially changed the name to what we know it to be today, “National Disability Employment Awareness Month.”
Celebrating 30 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and 75 years of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)
“Increasing Access and Opportunity” is the theme for 2020 as both milestones for the ADA and NDEAM have been and will continue to be commemorated throughout the month of October.
The Office of Disability Employment Policy put together a fantastic list of “ways to celebrate” for the entire month.
The following are some great examples of how organizations are working together to educate, increase awareness, and provide strategies for success in helping to make disabilities and work, work together.
In my home state of Virginia, our Department of Human Resource Management launched a Twitter campaign with information bites and ways to celebrate. Diversability Magazine published a great article titled “Seven Steps To Building A Disability-Inclusive Workplace.” And last but not least, Clemson University hosted a virtual lunch and learn.