This year we celebrated the 77th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). This endeavor began in 1945 when Congress declared the 1st week in October as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” Progress on this endeavor continued when Congress decided to drop the word “physically” in the title to be more inclusive of those with mental health, cognitive, and neurological disabilities. Congress further developed this idea by expanding the initiative to include the entire month of October, and they changed the name to the present-day “National Disability Employment Awareness Month.”
During this month, we strive to educate the public and employers about the value and contribution individuals with all disabilities add to our communities and workplaces. As Disability Navigators on the Regional Team, we work to spread this message and create opportunities for learning and employment focused on individuals with disabilities. We hope to further the message of inclusivity. In addition, we strive to end the stigma surrounding the employability of those with disabilities. Our team achieves this by connecting customers with resources available through Workforce Solutions and the greater community.
This year we served our community through three disability-inclusive hiring events, college campus outreach, and multiple presentations to organizations that serve the most vulnerable in our society. Our team members met with individuals at the Metropolitan Multi-Services Center to assist with resume and interview coaching. Navigators will continue to provide this service on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month from 10 am-12 pm throughout the year. Disability Navigators also shared posters with our regional offices celebrating the theme for this year, “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation.” These events build bridges in our community between workplaces and customers with easily accommodated needs allowing them to thrive and contribute to our economy.
Education and outreach are important, but people are ultimately the heart and driving factor behind these initiatives. One customer shared with us that our hiring event gave him hope, and we hope that is the message all our customers carry with them.
If you have any questions about disability employment resources, please explore our Workforce Solutions Regional Team YouTube channel for any Diversity Works vlogs. The vlogs are full of information relating to job searches and accommodations for those with disabilities. We also have an expert panel discussion about disability disclosure in the job search and interview process available to view.
Soha Mohammed is a Disability Navigator for Workforce Solutions. As a native Houstonian and graduate from University of Houston with a Bachelor of Arts in Corporate Communications, she is passionate about health and wellness, specifically workplace wellness, and strives to achieve her fitness goals daily and share her knowledge with others.
Kim Blanchard is a Disability Navigator on the Regional Team for Workforce Solutions. She assists those with disabilities in the job search process to ensure customers are provided with all appropriate opportunities to begin or improve their careers. She has a Master of Science in Applied Psychology and enjoys sharing her knowledge and time in service to individuals who face challenges due to differing abilities.