The crispness of autumn brings a smell of transition into the air. As the summertime frolics of sunshine melt into falling leaves and cooler temperatures, we think the timing could not be more perfect to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). October marks the full-month awareness of championing people with disabilities in the workplace while simultaneously pushing for great numbers to join the ranks. Another wonderful dimension is that 2015 marks the 70th year of this month of constructive thoughts and powerful actions, especially as we still feel the charge from the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act from this past July.
The theme of this year’s celebration campaign is centralized around the individual concept of “My Disability is One Part of Who I Am”. Colloquially shortened to “Who I Am”, the 2015 NDEAM push is to realize that disability has to simultaneous roles. While one end of the spectrum, it can be part of someone’s identity, it by no means encompasses the whole person. Yet, the disability identify is a powerful one that many people, almost 20% of Americans, can call their own. Seen in this light, disability is both powerful but not consuming. It includes people, but does not solely define them.
As we gear up to celebrate and spread awareness, we hope that this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month will be a more individualistic experience. Occasionally, people feel without a voice as they struggle around identifying with a disability. There is denial and anger, but by allowing a safe place to give a voice, as so many organizations are committing to for NDEAM, the negativity can be transformed into positive energy. At Accessibility Partners, we vow to do that. In the coming days and beyond (because indeed, employment of people of people with disabilities shouldn’t cease once the calendar month changes), we are providing a space for members of our workforce and others to share their experience as an employee with a disability.
As encouraged by the NDEAM site, Accessibility Partners is ready to take the pledge. Truly, most workplaces welcoming of the talents of all people, including people with disabilities. They are a critical part of our efforts to build an inclusive community and strong economy, as well as serve as an empowering place where the abilities of all can shine. In this spirit, Accessibility Partners is recognizing National Disability Employment Awareness Month to raise awareness about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of people with disabilities. Our entire staff will reinforce the value and talent people with disabilities add to our workplaces and communities and affirm our commitment to an inclusive community.
While we hope to set an example ourselves, Accessibility Partners cannot do this alone. That is not the point of this October of action. It is a month of community to support the individual. We call upon employers spanning every level of business, schools, Federal agencies, and other community organizations across the country to observe NDEAM with appropriate programs and activities. This also comprises advancing its message that people with disabilities are up to the task throughout the year.
Accessibility Partners will keep you posted throughout the month on our progress, and other organizations doing the same. Get active, and stay informed. Remember, disability might be one part of who the individual is, but together in a chorus of voices saying “I AM”, we are stronger for it.