Disabled workers make daily contributions

October was National Disability Employment Awareness Month. It is a time to recognize the significant contributions American workers with disability make each and every day. Jennifer Sheehy, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy said, “Our nation’s most successful companies proudly make inclusion a core value. They know that inclusion works. It works for workers, employers, opportunity and innovation.”

This statement helps solidify the reason why Americans need to observe and reaffirm commitment to ensuring equal opportunity for all citizens and so they may tribute to the accomplishments of men and women with disabilities who contributed, continue to contribute, and wish to contribute to making the nation’s economy strong.

NDEAM dates back to the return of service members with disabilities from World War II, sparking public interest in the contributions of people with disabilities in the workplace. Provided below are a few interesting facts of the fight for equality among people with disabilities:

a. In 1945, President Harry S. Truman approved a Congressional resolution declaring the first week in October “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week”.

b. The word “physically” was removed in 1962 to include individuals with all types of disabilities.

c. In the 1950s, veterans with disabilities and other people with disabilities began the barrier-free movement. The combined efforts of the Veterans Administration, the President’s Committee on Employment of the Handicapped and the National Easter Seals Society, among others, result in the development of national standards for “barrier-free” buildings.

d. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to “National Disability Employment Awareness Month”.

e. About 27 million women in the U.S. have disabilities – and the number is growing. More than 50 percent of women older than 65 are living with a disability. The most common cause of disability for women is arthritis or rheumatism.

People with disabilities are a heterogeneous group that includes people with sensory, physical and mental conditions. Individuals with disabilities cross lines of age, ethnicity, sex, race, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status. Each person brings to a job unique skills and abilities. It is a group anyone can become a member of at any time.

Equity, dignity, respect, and cooperation among all individuals are essential values in the Defense Department work environment. The government recognizes its vital role in advancing disability awareness in the workplace and remains committed to providing every person opportunities for a meaningful career.

The observation of National Disability Employment Awareness Month is established by public law and presidential proclamation and is observed during the month of October each year.

For more information on National Disability Employment, visit the Equal Opportunity SharePoint site at https://dm.eim.acc.hedc.af.mil/355FW/EO/Lists/Announcements/AllItems.aspx or contact the Equal Opportunity office at 228-5509.

Courtesy of 355th Fighter Wing Equal Opportunity Office and https://deomi.org/.

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