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October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt Alex Hortin
  • 43rd Communications Squadrons
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. It is a time to bring to light issues facing workers with physical and mental disabilities and recognize the contributions these workers make to our society. 

This year, the Labor Department's Office of Disability Employment Policy has declared the theme "Expectation + Opportunity = Full participation." 

This year's theme focuses on the expectation that both employees and employers fully support the program and that individuals with disabilities are given the proper opportunities to find a successful occupation. Since these opportunities must cover the complete spectrum of employment choices, workers are given chances to capitalize on their many talents. 

The law designating October as the month to recognize our nation's disabled work force dates back to 1945 when Congress enacted Public Law 176. This law established the first week of October as National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week. In 1988, the name was changed to its current title, National Disability Employment Awareness Month. 
Each year, the current president issues a proclamation. This year, President Barack Obama outlined what he hoped the month will achieve: 

"I call on all Americans to celebrate the contributions of individuals with disabilities to our workplaces and communities, and to promote the employment of individuals with disabilities to create a better, more inclusive America, one in which every person is rightly recognized for his or her abilities and accomplishments." 

Currently, there are more than 54 million people in our country living with disabilities. As of September, only 22 percent of these people were employed. When compared to the 70.5 percent of people without disabilities in the work force, it is easy to see how important programs like the National Disability Employment Awareness Month are in trying to raise support from both employers and potential employees. 

For more information on events and activities for this year's Disability Employment Awareness Month, visit the Office of Disability Employment Policy Web site at www.dol.gov/odep/.