National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is observed annually during the month of October. This national tribute highlights the historical context and advantages of employing persons with disabilities across America.
This year marks two notable disability observances, the 75th Anniversary of NDEAM and the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA, which prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodations, commercial facilities, telecommunications, and state and local government services, was signed into law on July 26, 1990 by President George H.W. Bush.
Advocacy for persons with disabilities in America dates back to the early 20th century, when Congress approved the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1918, which provided vocational rehabilitation to disabled veterans of World War I, if they were unable to return to their previous vocations due to a disability. Two years later, in 1920, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Smith-Fess Act, known as the Civilian Vocational Rehabilitation Act, to provide training and resources to American civilians.
The journey continued, and in 1945, President Harry S. Truman approved a Congressional resolution, which established the first week in October as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week” to recruit and support the employment of workers with physical disabilities. In 1962, the observance was renamed, removing the word “physically,” and to expand the focus to all individuals with disabilities.
In 1988, Congress expanded the observance period from a week to a month, followed by the name change to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
Please join us in celebrating the achievement of persons with disabilities.