October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
“NDEAM is held each October to commemorate the many and varied contributions of people with disabilities to America’s workplaces and economy,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This year’s theme is “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion.”
If you are in search of resources and ideas of how you or your organization can celebrate and support NDEAM, visit the U.S. Department of Labor website. Also, follow the STAR Center’s social media pages to learn how you can participate in local NDEAM events and activities. This month is also a great time to listen to inspiring employment stories and inclusive business practices that are highlighted as a part of the STAR Center’s Icanworktoo project. The Icanworktoo initiative features individuals with disabilities who talk about their journey to successful employment. The Tennessee Valley Authority is a partner of the Icanworktoo project as well.
In July, I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to attend the Americans with Disabilities Act Symposium in Phoenix, Arizona with the STAR Center Employment Team. Haben Girma, the first Deaf-Blind graduate of Harvard Law School, was the keynote speaker. Instead of defining a disability as an obstacle, Girma told us that she defines a disability as “an opportunity for innovation.” Sometimes, she said, “alternative technology benefits disabled people and nondisabled people.”
Girma challenged everyone attending the ADA Symposium to commit to an action step to increase awareness and advocate for more inclusive workplaces and communities. In a 2019 essay, Girma said: “People with disabilities succeed when communities choose to be inclusive. The biggest barriers exist not in the person, but in the social, physical, and digital environments.”