Hello, readers! I hope you are enjoying your October. There are so many fun holidays this month–but there are some more serious ones, too.
No, I’m not talking about haunted graveyards. I’m talking about National Disability Employment Month (NDEAM), and although it lasts all of October, it’s something that can (and should!) be celebrated all year long. It’s an important one, considering the unemployment rate for job-seekers with disabilities is double the national average. However, with the recent passing of some new federal rules about hiring people with disabilities, that number will hopefully go way down.
I’d like to share a blog post I did for AbilityLinks last year about NDEAM, accompanied by some new information below.
By Amanda Fowler 24. October 2012 07:44
October is one of our favorite months here at Marianjoy’s AbilityLinks: the leaves are changing colors; autumn festivals are in full swing; pumpkin-flavored EVERYTHING has entered cafés and restaurants; two favorite holidays are celebrated—Sweetest Day and Halloween. Our most favorite reason to celebrate, though, is that October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).
The idea for NDEAM began almost seventy years ago, in 1945, in an effort by Congress to employ more people with physical disabilities. (One likely reason for this historical timing was the large number of returning veterans who had acquired new physical disabilities during their service.) As the understanding of disability expanded, so, too, did awareness. In 1962, the program broadened to include people with all types of disabilities, not just physical. In 1988, the observance received its current name and expanded from a week to a month.
NDEAM is officially under the direction of the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). The organization offers many resources for companies to participate in the campaign, including posters, articles, and more. Its theme this year: “A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?” certainly is a call to action. Does your company participate?
One way in which AbilityLinks celebrated this event was by hosting its triannual online job fair in the beginning of the month, from October 1–5. A record number of people participated on all fronts, including 180 job-seekers and 21 employers. Both job-seekers and employers were from all around the country—a reminder that you don’t have to be in the Chicagoland area to use AbilityLinks.
The companies that participated were: Space Telescope Science Institute; Convergys Recruiting; Convergys Corporation; State of Illinois Disabled Workers Program; Domino Printing; ECRI Institute; Internal Revenue Service; Employment Options; AGB Investigative Services, Inc.; Balfour Beatty Construction; GC Services; Farmland Foods, Inc.; G.C. Services LP; J. Craig Venter Institute; Océ North America—A Canon Group Company; Advocate Health Care; FishNet Security; Big Tent Jobs, LLC; Nicor Gas, an AGL Resources Company; Fenwal Inc.; and, of course, Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital. Congratulations to Ken Skord, Janice Duvall, and Bill O’Connor for a well-run job fair. Those who participated said they found it very useful.
Make sure to watch for next year’s AbilityLinks online job fair—but you don’t have to wait until then to attend an AbilityLinks event. Check out our event calendar for more information. [Note: the next AbilityLinks.org job fair will be February 18–20, 2014; the last one was earlier this month, October 8–10, 2013].
How do you feel about NDEAM? Does your company participate—do you wish it did? (Here is a guide from the Department of Labor with tips on how to be more inclusive.) Are there other ways you think that AbilityLinks can participate? Please leave any comments here—we’d love to hear from you!
Enjoy the rest of our favorite month—maybe you could post an NDEAM flyer on your way to get your pumpkin latte.
Now, for a bit of an update on my last post about legal initiatives for disability. Although the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990, and it did make a lot of improvements for people with disabilities, the unemployment level (14.1%) and poverty level (29%) for people with disabilities are still way too high. Those aforementioned legal initiatives were just part of a bigger plan, a huge wave of social activism to improve opportunities for people with disabilities. In August, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) of the U.S. Department of Labor released two final rules requiring at least 7 percent of the workforces for federal contractors to be people with disabilities. And with federal contractors (and subcontractors) comprising 10% of the national workforce, that means a LOT of people! Woohoo! I am so excited people with disabilities will be getting more of a chance to work. As someone with a disability myself, I value being able to work, contributing my skills and passions in helping create great end results for Marianjoy. I wish the same opportunity for everyone.