What I Hope Companies Will Learn From National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Dear Employers,

Every October, the United States Department of Labor hosts National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an annual awareness campaign that looks to celebrate and educate about hiring people with disabilities. I’m asking you today to consider supporting this cause, hosting events, and most importantly, looking to employ those with disabilities in your workplace.

The idea behind NDEAM goes back to 1945 when Congress passed a law saying that the first week in October would be “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” About 1 in 5 Americans has a disability, so a month like this can have incredible impact.

I have a personal connection to the disability community. I was diagnosed with autism when I was 4, and today at 28 after years of supports and therapies, I have been able to hold down six jobs as a national speaker, best-selling author, film consultant, local TV talk show host, nonprofit founder and producer of social media and digital content. I now give talks to companies about autism spectrum disorders in the workplace, to educate them about the unique abilities individuals with disabilities can offer if given the opportunity.

I see a future where my high school mentees, who all have autism and are extremely bright and gifted, can transition to adulthood and succeed in the workforce. Some of them may have challenges at first, but so does everyone. With the right accommodations in place, you’ll be very pleased by
what you see from each and every one of them.

Jennifer Sheehy, deputy assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy has said, “By fostering a culture that embraces individual differences, including disabilities, businesses profit by having a wider variety of tools to confront challenges. Our nation’s most successful companies proudly make inclusion a core value. They know that inclusion works. It works for workers, it works for employers, it works for opportunity, and it works for innovation.”

Together, let’s focus on making inclusion celebrated not only in the workplace but in every place around the world. Thank you.

To learn more about National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and how you can go about employing those with disabilities, you can download free resources at The United States Department of Labor’s website.

A version of this article originally appeared on Kerrymagro.com.

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