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October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

A Brief Introduction and History of National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month

Held each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities.

NDEAM's roots go back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to "National Disability Employment Awareness Month." Upon its establishment in 2001, the Office of Disability Employment Policy assumed responsibility for NDEAM and has worked to expand its reach and scope ever since.

- found at the Office of Disability Employment Policy's NDEAM webpage.

Official NDEAM Poster


Visit the National Disability Employment Awareness Month website to view archived posters from previous years.

The ADA Explained

An Introduction to the Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in everyday activities. The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability just as other civil rights laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. The ADA guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to enjoy employment opportunities, purchase goods and services, and participate in state and local government programs.

- found at

Words Matter

Disable the Label: Communicating with and about People with Disabilities

Words have power! The words we use to describe people can either be uplifting and encouraging or degrading and dehumanizing. Words shape the attitudes and beliefs of society and influence our world. Brault (2008) reported that more than fifty million people in the United States have a disability. That translates to one out of every five people having a disability. People with disabilities constitute the largest minority group in the United States. It is the only minority group comprised of all genders, races, age groups, socioeconomic levels, and religions. This minority group is not exclusive; anyone can join this group at any time.

Historically, individuals with disabilities have been portrayed as weak individuals who are to be feared, ignored, pitied, assisted, or institutionalized. Society has had two distinct responses to individuals with disabilities: to protect and contain or to be charitable (Smart, 2009). These responses to individuals with disabilities have determined the language used to describe this group of people.

Similarly, the words used to describe individuals with disabilities have not been accurate or representative of the person. Previously, words such as retard, disabled, handicapped, schizophrenic, and crazy were acceptable terms used to depict individuals with disabilities. These old, inaccurate, and inappropriate descriptions perpetuate the negative stereotypes and attitudinal barriers toward individuals with disabilities. When described by medical diagnoses, we devalue and disrespect people as individuals. These outdated terms have led to beliefs that have been reinforced by legislative policy, society's language and treatment, and environmental and attitudinal barriers. In recent years, there has been a push to create legislative policy to protect the rights of and to provide more access for individuals with disabilities. While this has been a great move in the right direction, progress to address attitudinal barriers has been slow.

- found in Encyclopedia of Diversity and Social Justice

Books Available from the Minuteman Library Network

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