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October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month


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Hedda Monaghan
Henry Whittemore Library
(508) 626-4664

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 for 2021


Click here 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

Related Books Available at the Whittemore Library

A Disability History of the United States

Available through Interlibrary Loan

Understanding Disability

Disability Rights Movement

No Pity

Streamable Documentaries

Words Matter

Updating the Communication Regarding People with Disabilities

From: Credo Reference (FSU community only)

People with Disabilities

Stories about people with physical disabilities aren't hard to find, and many of them manage to avoid the most egregious stereotypes about people whose hearing, sight or mobility don't fit within our definitions of what is normal.

More reporters seem to understand that people are not necessarily “confined to wheelchairs” or continually “suffer” from afflictions. They're less likely than in the past to refer to people with disabilities as “retarded,” “defective” or “abnormal.”

That's the good news, and it's a start.

The even better news is that some excellent journalism is being produced on disability issues. Since 2012, the National Center on Disability and Journalism at Arizona State University has reviewed hundreds of disability-related stories by news organizations across the United States and beyond. Granted, these stories, submitted by individuals proud of their work and hoping to be honored in the center's annual reporting contest, represent what should be the cream of the crop. And for the most part, they are. They include exhaustive investigations into the treatment of those living with disabilities, delve deeply into the lives of individuals, question public policy and challenge conventional thinking. They are as good as reporting done anywhere on any subject.

But the contest, along with the center's steady monitoring of disability coverage by the news media, also reveals some fault lines that underscore how much work remains to be done.

- found in The Diversity Style Guide

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

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