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Legacy HomepageNewsSpecial ReportsNational Disability Employment Awareness Month 2015

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October 2015

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

My Disability is One Part of Who I Am

Held each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities.


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Screen grab of Madison DeGruy speaking in an interview.

Madison DeGruy Discusses Benefits Of Workforce Recruitment Program

Screen grab of Anna Cunningham speaking in an interview.

Workforce Recruitment Program Success Story: Northrop Grumman

Screen grab of Director of Disability Programs Randy Cooper speaking in an interview.

DoD Reaffirms Commitment To Individuals With Disabilities

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President Marks 25th Anniversary of The Americans With Disability Act

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The 35th Annual Disability Awards

The Annual Disability Awards Ceremony honored Defense Department components for outstanding achievements in the hiring, retention, and advancement of individuals with disabilities. It also highlights the accomplishments and abilities of employees and Service members with disabilities who have made significant contributions to and best demonstrate the core values of their respective organizations.

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Individual Recipients

Portrait photo of president Obama.

"During National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we celebrate the ways individuals with disabilities strengthen our workforce, our communities, and our country."

- President Barack Obama | Proclamation

Facts of the Day

October 2015

  • October 01, 2015

    Held each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a time to celebrate the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. The theme for this year — which marks 70 years since the first observance — is "My Disability is One Part of Who I Am."

  • October 02, 2015

    In 1945, Congress declared the first week in October each year National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week. In 1962, the word "physically" was deleted to acknowledge the needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

  • October 03, 2015

    This year's theme, "My Disability is One Part of Who I Am," encapsulates the important message that people with disabilities are just that — people," said Jennifer Sheehy, Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy. "And like all people, we are the sum of many parts, including our work experiences. Disability is an important perspective we bring to the table, but, of course, it's not the only one."

  • October 04, 2015

    The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was the first major legislative effort to secure an equal playing field for individuals with disabilities. This legislation provided a wide range of services for persons with physical and cognitive disabilities. These disabilities can create significant barriers to full and continued employment, the pursuit of independent living, self-determination, and inclusion in American society.

  • October 05 2015

    In 2001, Congress established the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) to develop and influence policies and practices that increase the number and quality of employment opportunities for people with disabilities to ensure that they are fully integrated into the workforce.

  • October 06, 2015

    In 1954, Congress passed the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) Amendments, increasing the scope of the VR system. VR helps thousands of people obtain employment. Mary Switzer, Director of the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation at the time, funds more than 100 university-based rehabilitation programs. The Act also initiates funding for research, eventually leading to the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.

  • October 07, 2015

    For the purpose of federal nondiscrimination laws, the federal government defines a person with a disability as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.

  • October 08, 2015

    What is Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act? Section 501 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in Federal employment and requires Federal agencies to establish affirmative action plans for the hiring, placement, and advancement of people with disabilities in Federal employment.

  • October 09, 2015

    According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate during June 2014 dropped from 6.3 to 6.1 percent. The unemployment rate among people with disabilities was 12.9 percent. Among people with disabilities, 19.3 percent were in the labor force, compared to 69.2 percent of people without disabilities.

  • October 10, 2015

    Daniel Inouye was born and raised in Hawaii. In 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army’s 442nd Regimental Combat team, made up of soldiers of Japanese ancestry. After losing his right arm in battle in 1945, he was honorably discharged in 1947, earning a Medal of Honor and a Purple Heart, among other awards. He became Hawaii’s first congressman when it became a state in 1959. In 1962, he was first elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served for almost 50 years.

  • October 11, 2015

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 15 percent of workers with a disability were employed in federal, state, or local government, nearly equal to the percent of government workers with no disability (14 percent).

  • October 12, 2015

    Jim Langevin was the first quadriplegic to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. At 16, he was injured while in the Boy Scout Explorer program working with a local police department. He was hit by a bullet and paralyzed when a gun accidentally discharged. Inspired by the community support he received, he decided to enter public service. In 2000, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

  • October 13, 2015

    In 1975, President Gerald Ford signs the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA), which requires public schools to provide a “free appropriate public education” to all students, including those with disabilities. The Act is renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1990, and amendments in 1997 add a focus on transition outcomes for students with disabilities exiting high school and pursuing post-secondary options, including employment.

  • October 14, 2015

    The Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 mandates the removal of what is perceived to be the most significant obstacle to employment for people with disabilities—the physical design of the buildings and facilities—by requiring that all buildings designed, constructed, altered or leased with federal funds be made accessible.

  • October 15, 2015

    "What is Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act? Section 504 prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in any federally funded programs or activities. Section 504 requires that programs receiving Federal funds to be accessible to people with disabilities. Section 504 also prohibits disability-based job discrimination of any kind and requires that employers make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities."

  • October 16, 2015

    In 1995, the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) for College Students with Disabilities is established as a partnership between the U.S. Departments of Labor and Defense. This referral program connects public- and private-sector employers nationwide with highly motivated postsecondary students and recent graduates with disabilities who are eager to prove their talents and skills in the workplace through summer or permanent jobs.

  • October 17, 2015

    The Telecommunications Act of 1996—the first revision of telecommunications law since the 1930s—requires telecommunications manufacturers and service providers to ensure that equipment is designed, developed and fabricated to be accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, if readily achievable. At its signing, President Bill Clinton addresses technology’s growing role in all aspects of life, including employment.

  • October 18, 2015

    On June 22, 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Olmstead v. L.C. that unjustified segregation of persons with disabilities constitutes discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The plaintiffs were two women who had mental illness and developmental disabilities. They had been voluntarily admitted to the psychiatric unit of a state-run hospital but were held for several years after their initial treatment.

  • October 19, 2015

    Established in 1989, the Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program (CAP) has been providing federal employees with disabilities and service members with functional limitations free assistive technology and support services. On May 20, 2015 CAP made its 150,000th accommodation.

  • October 20, 2015

    The Assistive Technology Act of 2004 amends previous iterations to reflect developments in technology in all aspects of community life, including employment. Among other things, it requires states to provide direct aid to people with disabilities to ensure they have access to the technology they need, at both home and work, and authorizes the development of alternative financing mechanisms to help in doing so.

  • October 21, 2015

    Reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions. Reasonable accommodation also includes adjustments to assure that a qualified individual with a disability has rights and privileges in employment equal to those of employees without disabilities.

  • October 22, 2015

    "What is Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act? Section 508 requires that when Federal agencies develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology, Federal employees and the general public with disabilities have access to and use of information that is comparable to access to and use of information by people without disabilities."

  • October 23, 2015

    According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, service animals are dogs trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities. This includes guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, and calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder during an anxiety attack. The tasks a dog has been trained to perform must be directly related to the person’s disability.

  • October 24, 2015

    In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. Modeled on the Civil Rights Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the ADA stems from collective efforts by advocates in the preceding decades and is the most comprehensive disability rights legislation in history.

  • October 25, 2015

    In 2010, on the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, President Barack Obama signs Executive Order 13548 – Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities. This directive calls on federal departments and agencies to increase the recruitment, hiring and retention of people with disabilities.

  • October 26, 2015

    In 1992, a growing number of leading businesses recognize disability as a key part of diversity and incorporate it into their workplace inclusion initiatives. Reflecting this, many join forces to establish state and local business leadership networks—groups of business leaders and human resource executives focused on increasing disability inclusion, from both an employment and consumer perspective.

  • October 27, 2015

    In 1988, the “President’s Committee on the Employment of the Handicapped” becomes the “President’s Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities.” A year later, President George H.W. Bush appoints Justin W. Dart Jr. as its chairman. Congress also expands “National Employ the Handicapped Week” to “National Disability Employment Awareness Month,” which is recognized now each October.

  • October 28, 2015

    "The final regulations associated with the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 are approved by a bipartisan vote and published in the Federal Register. The amendment makes important changes to the definition of the term “disability” under the ADA, and make it easier for a person seeking protection under the law to establish eligibility."

  • October 29, 2015

    In 1935, Congress passed and President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, establishing federal old-age benefits and grants to the states for assistance to blind individuals and children with disabilities. The act also extends the already existing vocational rehabilitation programs established by earlier legislation.

  • October 30, 2015

    In 2010, in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the U.S. Department of Labor inducts disability activists Justin W. Dart Jr. and Helen Keller into the Labor Hall of Honor.

  • October 31, 2015

    In the 1950s, veterans with disabilities and other people with disabilities begin the barrier-free movement. The combined efforts of the U.S. 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.

Workforce Recruitment Program Brochure 2015

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Photo Essay

Clarence A. Johnson, director of the DoD Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity, speaking at a podium.

DoD Officials Attend Disability Awards Ceremony