Department of Defense Education Activity

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

The theme for 2019 is "Don't Set Limits on Unlimited Potential"

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.

In recognition of the 2019 NDEAM, the Department of Defense has chosen the month’s observance theme as Don't Set Limits on Unlimited Potential. This year‘s poster emphasizes the unlimited possibilities when barriers are removed for individuals with disabilities. According to the Center for Disease Control the seven most common barriers are: Attitudinal, Communication, Physical, Policy, Programmatic, Social, and Transportation. The rocket breaking through the barriers represents the unlimited potential of a diverse workforce inclusive of everyone’s skills and talents.

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.  

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