October Is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

By Rena Gorlin October 20, 2021
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October Is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

​The theme for this year's observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is "America's Recovery: Powered by Inclusion," intended to reflect "the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic."

"As organizations rethink their talent strategies and rebuild their businesses, it's imperative employers provide resources and support to hire, and welcome, individuals with disabilities," said SHRM President and Chief Executive Officer Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP. Taylor is a member of the CEO Commission for Disability Employment, which works to remove barriers to employment for people with disabilities and raise awareness about their untapped potential.

For 20 years, the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) within the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has provided opportunities to and recognized the contributions of people with disabilities in the workplace. SHRM met with ODEP Assistant Secretary Taryn Williams earlier this month to discuss the two organizations' ongoing 15-year alliance.

A Talent for Adaptability and Resourcefulness

Today's employers need a workforce that can adapt to different situations and circumstances, and people with disabilities adapt to their surroundings every day. In the workplace, their resourcefulness translates into innovative ideas and fresh approaches for confronting challenges and achieving success. In addition, research shows that clients and consumers look favorably on organizations that employ people with disabilities.

The observance of NDEAM presents HR professionals and SHRM credential-holders with an opportunity to promote a diverse and inclusive workplace, pursuant to the Global & Cultural Effectiveness competency described in the SHRM Body of Competency and Knowledge.

The roles of SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP credential-holders in the employment of people with disabilities relate to several HR functional areas, including U.S. Employment Law & Regulations, Diversity & Inclusion, Talent Acquisition and Employee & Labor Relations.

Resources Especially Useful for HR Professionals:

  • EARN/Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion. EARN offers training and other services for employers on how to more effectively recruit, hire, retain and advance people with disabilities, and how to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects people with disabilities from discrimination.

  • ADA.gov (beta version). ADA.gov offers information and technical assistance on the ADA from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

  • Job Accommodation Network (JAN). JAN provides free, expert, confidential consultations and practical solutions for accommodating people with disabilities in the workplace.

  • Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT). PEAT helps employers and IT companies improve access to communications and other workplace technologies.

  • LEAD/National Center on Leadership for the Employment and Economic Advancement of People with Disabilities. The LEAD Center offers policy research and recommendations, technical assistance, and demonstration projects to promote inclusion and equity and facilitate the adoption and integration of Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs, policies and practices.

  • WorkforceGPS. WorkforceGPS offers online resources for community-based American Job Centers to provide services to people with disabilities and other barriers to employment.

  • VETS. VETS provides resources from the DOL's Veterans Employment and Training Service, including job banks and employer hiring tools.

  • CEO Commission for Disability Employment. This commission works to remove barriers to employment for people with disabilities and raises awareness of their untapped potential.

  • ODEP resources by topic:
    • Employers main page. Specialized information on recruiting, hiring, retention, career advancement, accommodations, stay at work/return to work and small businesses.
    • Tax incentives. Credits and deductions available to private businesses that make structural adaptations or other accommodations for employees or customers with disabilities.
    • Diversity and inclusion. A four-step reference guide, toolkits from the Campaign for Disability Employment, more.
    • Older workers. Information on the disability implications of an aging workforce.
    • Mental health. Information on how to address the needs of people with mental health conditions in disability employment policies.
    • Requirements for federal contractors. Businesses that have contracts with the federal government are prohibited from discriminating against people with disabilities.

Rena Gorlin, J.D., is an independent writer and editor based in Washington, D.C.

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