National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is celebrated every year in October to commemorate the accomplishments of persons with disabilities and recognize their contributions toward the economy and society at large.
It started in 1945 when Congress enacted Public Law 176 and declared the first week of October as National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week, which some 25 years later became National Disability Employment Awareness Month to acknowledge the needs of individuals with all types of disabilities.
This is important in two ways: first, to help us realize that persons with disabilities are part of the team and to ensure equal opportunity for all. Second, to sensitize the public about the issues surrounding employment for persons with disabilities.
2020 is even more significant as it marks the 75th observance of NDEAM and the 30th anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). NDEAM is led by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment (ODEP) and “Increasing Access and Opportunity” is the theme chosen for this year’s celebration.
Let’s look at a few ways your organization can create equal opportunities and an accessible work environment for employees with disabilities:
- Company branding: Make sure disability is included in the diversity statement of your company. Seek out corporate branding that highlights the diversity of employees and the diversity of disability. The Viscardi Center highlights the diversity of its workforce in its logo with the globally recognised symbol of a person in a wheelchair reaching for a star.
- Review company policies: This is the time to review the policies of your company to project a strong commitment to an inclusive workplace. This is the time to evaluate your hiring strategies, marketing efforts, and answer questions about accessible websites, recruitment materials, and accommodation processes. codemantra provides the necessary support to employees with disabilities within its offices including personnel to accompany them on the premises when needed, dedicated parking spots and restroom facilities.
- Provide leadership training: Change starts from the top. Provide training to the leadership team on federal and state regulations, raise awareness about disability etiquette, and renew their commitment to hiring individuals with disabilities.
- Train the supervisors: Supervisors are individuals closest to the employees in any organization. Provide training to sensitize them on their role in fostering an inclusive workplace.
- Establish an employee resource group (ERG): An ERG offers a chance for employees to connect and receive support from others with similar backgrounds and interests.
- Educate employees: It is crucial that companies with a strong commitment to an inclusive workplace reinforce that commitment amongst its employees. Provide training to your employees through educational events, webinars, and discussions.
- Feature NDEAM in company publications: Publish articles and newsletters reaffirming the organization’s commitment to an inclusive workplace — anecdotes or stories from employees sharing their disability-related experiences and successes in your workplace.
- Feature NDEAM in social media posts: Call attention to all your organization’s inclusion efforts on social media. Come up with engaging social media campaigns to highlight your commitment to disability inclusion in the workplace.
- Equal opportunities in promotions and pay hikes: Ensure employees with disabilities are promoted in line with their contributions and are suitably remunerated for their efforts. codemantra has a firm commitment to equal opportunity in the workforce.
- Host a disability awareness event: Bring in experts for company-wide conversations about disability employment. Reach out to local disability organizations and enquire if they would be willing to participate in these discussions. codemantra celebrated the Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) on May 21 with a firm commitment to help organizations make their documents more accessible.