National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2021: ‘America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion’

The month of October is recognized annually as National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The purpose of the campaign is to provide education about disability employment issues while celebrating the many contributions of workers with disabilities. This year’s theme is “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion.”

In 1945, Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” The word “physically” was dropped in 1962 in order to be more inclusive of the employment needs and contributions of those with all types of disabilities, physical or otherwise. Congress expanded the week-long movement to a full month in 1988 and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

“Our national recovery from the pandemic cannot be completed without the inclusion of all Americans, in particular people with disabilities,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh in a press release. “Their contributions have historically been vital to our nation’s success, and are more important today than ever. We must build an economy that fully includes the talent and drive of those with disabilities.”

The annual campaign is led by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, but the month is observed at a grassroots level across the country as well. Participation is encouraged at any level, from hosting educational activities to learning more about those who advocate for disability rights.

Whether you’re looking for a job, seeking to understand your rights, or wanting help developing your skills, there are numerous resources available for you. Below is a list of organizations that can help during all stages of your career.

CareerOneStop, sponsored by the Department of Labor, has resources specifically for gaining experience, searching for a job, interviewing, making job accommodations, and disclosing a disability.

National Business & Disability Council at the Viscardi Center
NBDC works with organizations to create a long-term strategy that focuses on creating successful outcomes through inclusion. They work with companies to ensure accessibility in all parts of their business, from marketing materials to websites to in-person events. They also offer a database of job openings for positions across the US from a number of employers.

The Job Accommodation Network
JAN is an extremely comprehensive network that offers guidance to employers and employees on accommodations, rights, and employment issues. They also offer SOAR, a Searchable Online Accommodation Resource, to explore accommodation options for individuals in education and work settings.

The Workforce Recruitment Program
This program is designed to connect employers nationwide with recent graduates and college students with disabilities who are looking to start their careers. The program has provided thousands of students with employment opportunities since its inception in 1995.

This organization is committed to creating jobs for individuals with disabilities and advocating for an inclusive workforce. They will work with you individually to find a position through their national network of non-profit partners.

Ticket to Work
Social Security’s Ticket to Work helps beneficiaries to connect to a variety of different free employment services, such as preparing for work or career counseling, through a network of providers. These include Employment Networks and  State Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies, which will be able to provide these resources in your local area.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Their website lists all of the rights, regulations, and laws surrounding individuals and discrimination in the workplace. This resource provides up-to-date information on your rights and opportunities that are protected by law.

Job Boards
For many individuals seeking employment opportunities, sites such as LinkedIn, Indeed, and ZipRecruiter are go-to places for finding open positions. While these may be great options, there are also sites that work specifically with and are designed for people with disabilities. These include:

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