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America Honors National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October 22, 2019

Businesses and organizations around the nation are celebrating their employees with disabilities this month, reflecting the growing movement to make workplaces, businesses and public spaces welcoming and inclusive for all.

So, what’s the occasion?

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).

The designation, while officially declared in 1988 by the U.S. Congress, started gaining momentum all the way back in 1945, as those who signed up to fight in World War II returned home as veterans with permanent, life-changing injuries – and families to support.

The public support for these returning soldiers inspired President Harry S. Truman to approve a resolution declaring the first week in October “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.”

Along with a change to the name of the resolution to include disabilities of every type, this resolution evolved and expanded over time to support all Americans with disabilities and the businesses that succeed thanks to their work.

NDEAM and a Digital Future

Slowly but surely, the evolution of inclusivity has entered the digital age. That means there’s no shortage of options to bring your business to the next level. The Department of Labor provided a huge number of ideas in its slideshow, “31 Days of NDEAM — What you CAN do!” Check out some of these impactful ideas:

  • Take advantage of the Workplace Recruitment Program (WRP). Arranged by the ODEP and Department of Defense, the WRP identifies qualified, pre-screened college students and recent graduates with disabilities available for summer and permanent jobs.
  • Look into the Job Accommodation Network (JAN). JAN provides employers, service providers and individuals with confidential guidance related to workplace accommodation and disability employment issues during NDEAM and throughout the year – all at no cost.
  • Ensure your company’s internship program is open to all, including people with disabilities. ODEP offers a resource to help in this regard. Dive into their free publication: Inclusive Internship Programs: A How-to Guide for Employers.  

Taking even one of these steps can help you honor individuals with disabilities in tangible, life-changing ways.

Does Your Website Support the Disabled Community?

Because job searches and applications are digital, websites are today’s doorway to employment.  It is critical that people with varied and changing abilities have access to websites in order to even be considered for a job, and that’s the first step toward employment.

From a business perspective, companies use web technology to streamline their application process. “Diversity and inclusion” are important initiatives of hiring today, and the potential positive impact for persons with disabilities is immense.  By making their sites more accessible, companies will broaden their applicant pool while reinforcing their commitment to diversity and inclusion. 

What additional activities can you do to support this community?

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) website provides a list of steps employers can take to show their support for an inclusive workplace. Here are a few of their highly effective ideas your organization can try:

  • Establish a disability employee resource group to give employees the chance to network and get support from others with similar backgrounds.
  • Create a display that shows your company’s commitment to a workplace that is inclusive of people with disabilities. Poster display materials can include this year’s NDEAM poster, as well as others found in the “What Can YOU Do?” poster series.
  • Provide training for supervisors that includes ADA and inclusivity in the workplace, which could include policy review and pathways to delivering accommodations. The Building an Inclusive Workforce tabletop desk guide is a great place to start.
  • Publish internal articles during NDEAM that explain how employees can request accommodation or that highlight the hard work and contributions of employees with disabilities.
  • Highlight NDEAM on the company’s social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn with the hashtag #NDEAM.
  • Issue a press release linked to NDEAM to local media announcing the company’s involvement with NDEAM. Try the official NDEAM “fill-in-the-blank” template!

How can User1st help your company become more accessible to more applicants?

User1st enables organizations to rapidly discover and continually test, implement, and maintain digital content accessibility to reach more customers while meeting compliance obligations. We’re solely focused on digital accessibility, and continually strive for innovation through offerings that allow organizations to realize the benefits of full and open web content.

Take advantage of our free tools to get started on making your website inclusive and accessible to millions of Americans with disabilities – join us in celebrating NDEAM! Just visit the Chrome Store and start your web compliance check with our accessibility testing tool, uTester.

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