NDEAM stands for National Disability Employment Awareness month. Held each October, NDEAM is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. The theme for 2014 is Expect. Employ. Empower.
The question is, “who cares about NDEAM?” The answer should be EVERYONE. The primary reason everyone should care is because the NDEAM campaign increases awareness and highlights the importance of quality employment amongst those with disabilities. The Disabled Community is the only community that an individual can find themselves a part of at any time. Just because you might not currently be disabled doesn’t mean that you won’t be tomorrow.
Let’s think for a second about how impactful the 2014 theme Expect. Employ. Empower. can be for so many people.
Expect refers to the expectations that employers should have for people hired with disabilities. Most individuals with disabilities aren’t requiring special consideration when interviewing, but they are expecting employers to be fair in their hiring practices. Many with disabilities have great skills and are more than capable of completing tasks that are asked of them. If given the chance, employers may be surprised by what some candidates can bring to the table.
Employ refers to the need for companies and organizations to look past a person’s disability and give highly qualified candidates, those that happen to have a disability, a chance. Often times, when it comes to hiring someone with a disability against someone without a disability, and without a true understanding or lack of desire to make special accommodations, an employer may prefer to hire someone without a disability. With that kind of thinking, many organizations miss out on hiring great people that can bring innovation and growth to a position.
Empower refers to the liberations and confidence that employment will bring to someone with a disability. Most people, whether disabled or not, feel empowered when working and sustaining themselves because of their personal efforts. Employment empowers.
So who cares about National Disability Employment Awareness Month? Everyone should and it’s going to take everyone to ensure that the campaign is successful. We should all focus on how we as individuals can do our part to promote the theme Expect. Employ. Empower.
Cornelius Booker is a senior member of the Regional Navigator team and a graduate of Oklahoma State University where he received his Bachelors in Marketing and later received his M.B.A with a focus on Business Marketing and Management. With his personal experience and passion for the disabled community, Cornelius’ insights are an invaluable asset to the Workforce Solutions organization.