My Disability is one part of Who I Am is this year’s theme for National Disability Employment Awareness Month. This year marks the 70th anniversary celebrating and observing the contributions that people with disabilities continuously make in the workplace. Additionally, this past July marked the 25th anniversary of the ADA. So there are some great things to celebrate in the disability community.
Held annually, National Disability Employment Awareness Month is led by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy, but its true spirit lies in the many observances held at the grassroots level across the nation every year. Employers of all sizes and in all industries are encouraged to participate in NDEAM. The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month traces back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
"This year's theme encapsulates the important message that people with disabilities are just that — people," said Jennifer Sheehy, acting assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy. "And like all people, we are the sum of many parts, including our work experiences. Disability is an important perspective we bring to the table, but, of course, it's not the only one."
Here at CVI, this theme is reflective this month and every month of the year. Through our New View Adult Rehabilitation Program we offer job readiness and career development for our clients with vision loss. We assist them in returning back to work and finding the jobs and careers they desire. Some clients work on polishing their resume and cover letters. Others work on their interviewing skills. While still others hone their computer knowledge by learning how to use assistive technology. Along with other training classes, such as orientation and mobility, daily living skills and Braille, our clients are equipped to enter the workforce once their training is complete. They know full well that their blindness or vision impairment is just one part of who they are.
So, what do you think about this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness theme? How would you communicate to an employer that your disability is only one part of who you are? Share your thoughts and suggestions about disability employment in the comment section.