Every year since October 1988, supporters and individuals with disabilities have been celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) created within the US Department of Labor has been responsible for planning NDEAM activities and materials to increase the public’s awareness of the contributions and skills of American workers with disabilities. Locally, celebrations range from rallies, signing of proclamations, and job fairs to career mentoring days and many others activities. NDEAM does not have a specific colored ribbon, but for many October is when the promotion and education of hiring individuals with disabilities are highlighted within their communities.
This year’s NDEAM theme is Talent Has No Boundaries: Workforce Diversity Includes Workers with Disabilities. Workforce diversity is a hot topic among employers. Where many of us consider diversity as being inclusive of age, race, and religion in the workplace, diversity also includes your neighbor, son/daughter, friend, and customer that have a disability. Here are some facts from ODEP to consider:
• Over the next few decades, the largest percentage of new growth will be composed of women, ethnic minorities, and immigrants. People with disabilities are the nation’s largest minority, and the only one in which any person can join at any time.
• If you do not currently have a disability, you have about a 20% chance of becoming disabled at some point during your work life.
• People with disabilities cross all racial, gender, educational, socioeconomic, and organizational lines.
• Companies that include people with disabilities in their hiring practices increase their competitive advantage.
How can your company support diversity, and include individuals with disabilities?
• Connect with your local agencies that serve individuals with disabilities such as vocational rehabilitation, mental health agencies and Houston Center for Independent Living, among others. These agencies serve people with different disabilities and can be a good resource for training and presentations, for you and your staff.
Some events taking place in Houston the month of October:
October 12th – Career and Recovery Resources Inc. Job Fair this event will be hosted for individuals with disabilities at Metropolitan Multi-Service Center, 1475 West Gray Street, Houston, TX 77019, from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm. If you would like to participate, contact:Tyrone Shoemaker at Career Recovery.
October 20th – Career Mentoring Day (CMD) organized by Collaboration for Action and community partners including Workforce Solutions. CMD will match qualified individuals with disabilities to employers in a currently open position giving the individual the opportunity for hands on career exploration while the employer assesses a perspective employee to fill the position. If you are an employer and would like to participate contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
These are just two of the events taking place in Houston during the month of October; ODEP provides information online that can to be used for National Disability Employment Awareness Month, as well as other educational programs throughout the year on its Publications webpage.
Claudia Magallan is the Disability Navigator for Workforce Solutions Workforce Solutions- Gulf Coast ensuring that customers with disabilities utilize all the services offered by Workforce Solutions. She has over 5 years of experience building relationships in the Houston Community and working with job seekers with barriers to employment.