Tuesday, October 9, 2012

October: Disability Employment Awareness Month

Although it has been recognized since 1945, many folks are unaware that October is Disability Employment Awareness Month.  Initially, the first week of October was celebrated as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week”.  Later, in 1962, "physically" was removed in an effort to recognize the employment needs of all individuals with disabilities.  To increase awareness of disability employment challenges, in 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and the name was changed to Disability Employment Awareness Month. 

In recognition of Disability Employment Awareness Month, October is a perfect time to reach out and become more sensitive to the needs of individuals with disabilities.  During the month there are many opportunities for employers to sponsor disability training and hold workshops or webinars to learn about the different accommodations available to assist employees with a disability.  Establishing a company disability mentoring day/week is also an excellent opportunity for a corporation/organization to engage staff and promote opportunities to connect with a diverse workforce. 

Forming an Affinity Group is an on-going initiative that employers can consider adopting in an effort to support disability awareness. Fairfax County Government is a local agency promoting an Employees Disability Awareness & Action Network Affinity Group.  The group focuses on improving and achieving an accessible work environment for current and future employees with disabilities.  Agency employees with or without disabilities are encouraged to attend the meetings.  The group also provides a networking platform for open communication and opportunities.

This year Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will dedicate the month of October to exploring the ways people with disabilities have been portrayed in film. The Projected Image: A History of Disability in Film, will air on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. beginning on October 2. All films will be presented with both closed captioning and audio description (via secondary audio) for viewers with auditory and visual disabilities.  The series features more than 20 films ranging from the 1920s to the 1980s. Each night’s collection will explore particular aspects, themes, or types of disability, such as blindness, deafness and psychiatric or intellectual disabilities. One evening of programming will focus on veterans with disabilities returning home from war.

There are many valuable causes and organizations that you can join.  Find your passion and get involved to make a difference in your community!

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