National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2017

How are you celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2017?

NDEAM PosterOctober is National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2017 (NDEAM).

It’s theme this year is “Inclusion Drives Innovation” according to the  the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).  Their goal is to celebrates individuals with disabilities and their contributions and achievements to the American workforce.  The theme this year was derived with input by a variety of partner organizations, people with disabilities, their families and federal, state and local agencies.

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990 and not only governs aspects of the work environment, but also governs all areas of community life, such as housing, building access and transportation.  While ODEP cannot enforce ADA law it can promote awareness, encouragement and improvement to hiring policies and practices.

[jaw_quote custom_text=”“Americans of all abilities must have access to good, safe jobs,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “Smart employers know that including different perspectives in problem-solving situations leads to better solutions. Hiring employees with diverse abilities strengthens their business, increases competition, and drives innovation.”” author=”U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta” design_type=”stripe”]

NDEAM Historical facts:

  • Congress declared “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week” in 1945
  • Congress dropped the word “physically” from the title to recognize those disabled individuals without physical limitations in 1962
  • Congress expanded the week to a month and changed its name to NDEAM in 1988
  • ODEP was established and formally began its NDEAM campaign in 2001 to encourage and accommodate more disabled employees in the workforce

Do you have a work disability story?  How are you helping to promote disability inclusion in the workplace?

Lipedema SimplifiedThis is my story.  I was the only one employed with my company for many years with a disability.  Each day I got up at 5am and spent over an hour wrapping both my large and heavy legs with compression bandaging.  Every day was difficult to perform this task, dragging myself to my car on two canes and walking around at work.  I got many looks – some of pity asking it “they hurt much” and some of disgust because I was so large. You see I suffer from severe Lipedema and Lymphedema making my lower body extremely large and difficult to move.  However, I don’t let this condition define what I could (and can) do and contribute to the workplace (or my family).

I am well educated and skilled in technology, formerly employed as a Director of IT. Each day I demonstrated my skill and ability to perform the duties of my position above and beyond the expectations of my employer.  I tried to educate those around me about my condition and instill that a physical disability, no matter how bad it “looks”, doesn’t make me less of a person or diminish my contributions to the workplace.  In the end I believe a large part of why I was let go had to do with an “image” issue (large disabled woman) of senior management and the company’s unwillingness to spend money on modifications needed to accommodate my disability.

Well, I believe when God closes one door he opens another one (or window) to something better, even if you can’t see it yet.  It wasn’t until I was unemployed that I could actually get diagnosed with Lipedema and eventually Celiac disease.  Now I can focus on improving my health, educating as many people as possible about my conditions and empowering people to be their best self despite coping with one or more disabilities!

  • Have any of you encountered hiring prejudices, workplace discrimination or a strategy outing from a company because of a disability DESPITE THE FACT YOU COULD  DO THE ACTUAL JOB (and then some)!
  • Have you had a chance to encourage or empower someone with a disability to accomplish more than they thought they could?
  • Do you believe NDEAM’s “inclusion drives innovation” theme in the workplace?

Let’s hear your thoughts.

To your improved health…

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