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Legacy HomepageNewsSpecial ReportsNational Disability Employment Awareness Month 2016 (Archive)
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About National Disability Employment Awareness Month

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.

Photo Slideshow

Workforce Recruitment Program

The Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students and Recent Graduates is a federal-wide recruitment and referral program.

Workforce Recruitment Program Fact Sheet

The 36th Annual Disability Awards

The Annual Disability Awards Ceremony honors 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.

Army Veteran Kirk M. Bauer, Keynote Speaker

Army Veteran Kirk M. Bauer, Keynote Speaker

Kirk M. Bauer, JD, has been CEO of Disabled Sports USA since 1982. A combat wounded veteran from the Vietnam war, he was twice awarded the Bronze Star for heroism and is the recipient of the Purple Heart for wounds in combat, which resulted in amputation of his left leg above the knee.

Bauer firmly believes that the military philosophy of leadership by example is the most effective way to inspire others to dream big and achieve their goals. True to this philosophy, at 68, he regularly participates in mountain climbing; cycling, including the one day, 100 mile “Three Notch Century Ride”; skiing; golf; and hiking, including the annual Bataan Memorial Death March, a 26.2 mile Marathon hike in the deserts of southern New Mexico.

On September 10, 2016, he again completed the “Three Notch Century Ride”, riding “100-miles-in-one-day-on-one-leg” as his message reads. In 2010, Bauer led a team of amputee veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on a successful summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, which at 19,341 feet is the highest mountain in Africa. The team included double leg amputees, with Bauer having the only good leg between them. In 2015, he led an all wounded veteran team up Mt. Aconcagua, which at 23,000’ elevation, is the tallest in South America. Part of the team reached the summit with Bauer turning back at 20,000’.

Throughout his life, Bauer has been dedicated to promoting sports for people with disabilities. For his work, he has received the “Lifetime Achievement” award from the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, & Nutrition; “The George Steinbrenner Sports Leadership Award” from the U.S. Olympic Committee for lifelong contribution to Olympic/Paralympic Sport; and in 2006 received a Presidential Appointment to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. Bauer was appointed by President Bush to represent the USA in the 2006 Winter Paralympic Games in Torino and the 2008 Summer Paralympic Games in Beijing.

For his work and personal feats, Bauer has been featured on programs such as HBO "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel"; ESPN "Outside the Lines"; NBC Nightly News "Making a Difference"; CBS Early Show; National Public Television and National Public Radio; Armed Forces Network; FOX and Friends; and CNN. He has also been featured in various articles published in numerous newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, and New York Times.

Kirk holds a Doctorate of Law Degree from Boston University School of Law and a BA in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a native of Oakland, California and now lives near Baltimore, Maryland. His son, Joshua, is 30 and works for DoD.

Full Keynote Bio

Award for Achievements in Employment of Individuals With Disabilities: Component Recipients

Presented to the
Department of the Air Force
Deborah Lee James
Secretary of the Air Force

The Air Force is recognized with “The Secretary of Defense Award for Achievements in Employment of Individuals with Disabilities” for the fifth consecutive year. The Air Force achieved leading scores related to the employment of individuals with targeted, significant, disabilities, with the highest participation rate and new permanent hire percentage of the three military departments.

To facilitate achievement of these positive employment outcomes, the Air Force has adopted many effective strategies, including recruiting widely for positions in all pay plans, occupations, and levels; effective use of Schedule A excepted hiring authority; resurveying its workforce’s OPM SF-256 Self-Identification of Disability status codes; adopting a written reasonable accommodations policy for qualified applicants and employees with disabilities; and providing appropriate training to senior leadership and managers.

The Air Force was created when President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947. This made the Air Force a separate military service and ended a 40-year association with the Army. The Air Force thus entered a new era in which airpower became firmly established as a major element of the nation’s defense and one of its chief hopes for deterring war. The mission of the Air Force is “to fly, fight and win … in air, space and cyberspace.” To achieve that mission, the Air Force has a vision of global vigilance, reach and power.

Presented to the
Defense Finance and Accounting Service
Teresa McKay
Director, Defense Finance and Accounting Service

This is the third year in a row that the Defense Finance and Accounting Service is recognized with the Best Mid-Sized Component award. For the second consecutive year, DFAS exceeded DoD’s longstanding goal that two percent of its workforce be individuals with targeted, significant, disabilities, with a participation rate of 2.15 percent. DFAS led all mid-sized components in the percentage of permanent hires comprised of individuals with targeted disabilities.

In addition to demonstrating positive employment outcomes, DFAS was the only mid-sized component to submit documentation of an administrative mechanism or centralized source of expertise for establishing a comprehensive reasonable accommodations program.

DFAS was created by the defense secretary in 1991 to standardize, consolidate, and improve accounting and financial functions throughout DoD. The intent was to reduce the cost of the department's finance and accounting operations while strengthening its financial management.

The DFAS leadership and workforce are dedicated to achieving the agency’s vital mission every day: "Lead DoD in finance and accounting by ensuring the delivery of efficient, exceptional quality pay and financial information." To accomplish this and to guide our way to the future, the agency has adopted a vision that challenges us to build upon past accomplishments to reach higher: "To be a recognized leader in DoD's financial management by consistently delivering first-class service and products."

Presented to the
Washington Headquarters Services
Barbara Westgate
Director, Washington Headquarters Services

Washington Headquarters Services is recognized with the 2016 Best Small-Sized Component award.

WHS performed well in most statistical categories, and was the lead small-sized component in the participation rate of individuals with targeted disabilities. WHS earned points for demonstrating it had resurveyed its workforce’s OPM SF-256 Self-Identification of Disability status codes and submitting documentation of an administrative mechanism or centralized source of expertise for establishing a comprehensive reasonable accommodations program.

WHS was created in 1977 to provide administrative and management support to multiple DoD components and military departments. WHS supports agencies, organizations, and personnel in the National Capital Region working with administration, buildings, facilities, finances, information technology, human resources, security, and transportation. The WHS team consists of more than 2,300 civilian and military employees dedicated to providing world class service to its customers. WHS is committed to support the mission of DoD, and its offices and agencies. This commitment drives various administrative, human resources, and personal support initiatives administered by WHS, in support of the diverse DoD team of more than 64,000 personnel.

Presented to the
National Security Agency
Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers
Director, National Security Agency

This is the third year in a row the National Security Agency is recognized as the Best Intelligence Component. NSA achieved the top score among intelligence components in the participation rate and new permanent hire percentage of individuals with targeted disabilities. NSA submitted documentation of a comprehensive operational plan for funding supplies, equipment, and services critical to provide reasonable accommodations.

NSA stood out for its exemplary program to ensure accessible information and communication technology for its employees with disabilities. Instead of determining whether NSA was required by law to ensure accessible information and communication technology, agency leadership made a commitment that access to technology would be part of its mission. NSA proactively adopted comprehensive accessibility standards to ensure their employees with disabilities have equal access to information and communication technology.

Established in 1952, NSA has provided timely information to U.S. decision makers and military leaders for more than half a century. The Central Security Service was established by presidential directive in 1972 to promote full partnership between NSA and the service cryptologic components of the U.S. armed forces. This new command created a more unified cryptologic effort by combining NSA and CSS. The director of NSA is also the chief of CSS.

NSA/CSS is unique among the U.S. defense agencies because of its government-wide responsibilities. NSA/CSS provides products and services to DoD, the intelligence community, government agencies, industry partners, and select allies and coalition partners. In addition, NSA delivers critical strategic and tactical information to war planners and war fighters.

Presented to the
Missile Defense Agency
Navy Vice Adm. James D. Syring
Director, Missile Defense Agency

The Missile Defense Agency is honored with the Secretary of Defense Award for Achievements in Ensuring Accessible Information and Communication Technology in the Workplace.

MDA is recognized for its exemplary efforts to implement a program that ensures that its employees with disabilities have equal access to information and communication technology. MDA has taken proactive steps to allocate resources to fund a full-time section 508 coordinator position. The MDA section 508 coordinator works directly with the Equal Opportunity Office to establish agency-wide policy to ensure the accessibility of information and communication technology for individuals with disabilities. MDA established a program to ensure adherence to federal accessibility standards and usability guidelines. This model has proven successful in ensuring accessible information and communication technology for MDA employees with disabilities.

MDA is a research, development, and acquisition agency within the DoD. MDA is responsible for managing, directing, and executing the Ballistic Missile Defense program. MDA’s mission is to develop and deploy a layered BMD system to defend the United States, its deployed forces, allies, and friends from ballistic missile attacks of all ranges in all phases of flight. MDA coordinates with the combatant commanders, other DoD components and federal agencies, foreign governments, international organizations, and others as authorized.

MDA’s total government civilian workforce at the end of fiscal year 2015 included 2,334 civilian employees and 115 military service members located in five states and international locations. The MDA vision is to “earn our nation’s confidence in developing effective homeland and regional missile defense.” To “foster a supportive environment for a diverse and professional workforce” remains one of MDA’s top strategic organizational goals. MDA’s continued dedication to establishing and upholding its status as a model employer is demonstrated in its longstanding commitment to ensuring opportunities are available to everyone.

Award for Achievements in Employment of Individuals With Disabilities:
Individual Recipients

Presidential Proclamation

Portrait photo of president Obama.

"This month, we recognize the significant progress our country has made for those living with disabilities, and we honor the lasting contributions and diverse skills they bring to our workforce."

- President Barack Obama | Proclamation

Facts of the Day Calendar

October 01, 2016

"#InclusionWorks" has been chosen as the theme for the 2016 National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy said that this year’s theme seeks to inspire social media awareness of workers with disabilities.


October 2, 2016

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 3, 2016

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act 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 4, 2016

Photographer Dorothea Lange walked with a limp as a result of contracting polio as a child. She said of her disability, “I think it was perhaps the most important thing that happened to me. It formed me, guided me, instructed me, helped me, and humiliated me -- all those things at once. I've never gotten over it, and I am aware of the force and power of it.”


October 5, 2016

to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, about 1 in 68 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder, which occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. It is almost five times more common among boys, 1 in 42, than among girls, 1 in 189.


October 6, 2016

In the 1950s, veterans with disabilities and other people with disabilities began 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.


October 7, 2016

The 2016 Paralympics, the 15th Summer Paralympic Games, were held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and introduced two new sports to the competition: canoeing and the paratriathlon.


October 8, 2016

The Bureau of Labor Statistics keeps updated information about national labor force statistics with demographic characteristics available from the Current Population Survey (CPS).

  • October 9, 2016

    The effort to educate the American public about disability and employment began in 1945 when Congress declared the first week in October "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, "physically" was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of all individuals with disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to "National Disability Employment Awareness Month."


    October 10, 2016

    In 1932, Franklin Roosevelt was elected the 32nd President of the United States. Roosevelt used a wheelchair as a result of contracting polio in 1921. He inspired and directed the March of Dimes program that eventually funded the polio vaccine.


    October 11, 2016

    On June 22, 1999, the Supreme Court ruled in Olmstead vs. 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 12, 2016

    In 1935, the League for the Physically Handicapped formed in New York City to protest discrimination by the Works Progress Administration. The 300 members — most with disabilities caused by polio and cerebral palsy — had been denied WPA jobs because the Home Relief Bureau of New York City had stamped their applications “PH” for physically handicapped. League members held sit-ins and eventually generated thousands of jobs nationwide.

  • October 13, 2016

    About 27 million women in the United States 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.


    October 14, 2016

    The Disability History Museum provides visitors an array of tools to help deepen the understanding of human variation and difference, and to expand appreciation of how vital to our common life the experiences of people with disabilities have always been. The website is located at


    October 15, 2016

    The first Special Olympics Global Development Summit was held in 2013 to explore ways to "End the Cycle of Poverty and Exclusion for People with Intellectual Disabilities." Participants in the summit included government officials and human rights activists, as well as leaders from the sports and business world. There's no easy answer to the questions raised, but as one activist noted, "when we bring our skills together, we are unstoppable."


    October 16, 2016

    The Road To Freedom tour kicked off on Nov. 15, 2006. This 50-state bus tour and photographic exhibit chronicled the history of the grassroots movement that led to passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.


    October 17, 2016

    The Disabled American Veterans was founded in 1920 by disabled veterans from World War I to represent their special interests. In 1932, the DAV was congressionally chartered as the official voice of the nation’s wartime disabled veterans.


    October 18, 2016

    Jim Langevin was the first quadriplegic to serve in the House of Representatives. At 16, he was injured while in the Boy Scout Explorer program working with a local police department and 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 1994, he became the nation’s youngest Secretary of State, and in 2000, he was elected to the House of Representatives.


    October 19, 2016

    Daniel Inouye was born and raised in Hawaii. In 1942, he enlisted in the 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 the 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 elected to the Senate, where he served for almost 50 years.


    October 20, 2016

    In 2004, the Supreme Court heard Tennessee vs. Lane, a case in which individuals sued the state of Tennessee for failing to ensure that courthouses were accessible to people with disabilities. One plaintiff was arrested when he refused to crawl or be carried upstairs. The state argued that they could not be sued under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Supreme Court was in favor of people with disabilities, however, ruled that Tennessee could be sued for damages under Title II for failing to provide access to the courts.


    October 21, 2016

    In 1935, Congress passed and President Franklin D. 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 22, 2016

    Thomas Edison lost almost all his hearing when he was about 12 years old. This may have been caused by scarlet fever, but he believed it resulted from being grabbed by the ears and lifted onto a moving train. He often regarded his disability as an asset that allowed him to concentrate on his experiments and research. He became a renowned inventor who acquired 1,093 patents, and whose inventions included the light bulb and the phonograph.


    October 23, 2016

    Down syndrome remains the most common chromosomal condition diagnosed in the United States. Each year, about 6,000 babies born in the United States have Down syndrome. This means that Down syndrome occurs in about 1 out of every 700 babies.


    October 24, 2016

    The BARD mobile app provides access to Braille and talking books directly from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped with the Braille and Audio Reading Download. BARD contains nearly 80,000 books, magazines, and music scores in audio and braille formats, with new selections added daily.


    October 25, 2016

    In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act 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 26, 2016

    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities. The IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education, and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities.


    October 27, 2016

    Over the past 25 years, Boy Scouts Troop 409, whose members have had various physical and mental disabilities, have earned 1,000 merit badges and produced eight Eagle Scouts. Scoutmaster Richard Coleman, a former Air Force sergeant said, "To me they aren't disabled -- they're scouts -- and that's how I treat them." The troop has 22 members, including seven of its ten charter members who are still involved because age limits don’t apply to scouts with permanent disabilities.


    October 28, 2016

    In the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, Marla Runyan finished eighth in the 1,500-meter run, the highest finish by an American woman in that event. Runyan, who holds American women’s records in several running events, was the first legally blind person to compete in the Olympics.


    October 29, 2016

    In 2010, President Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13548, to increase federal employment of people with disabilities. The Office of Personnel Management released model strategies to help agencies meet their obligations. The DoD employs about 52,000 individuals with disabilities, defining them as current employees who have elected to identify themselves as an individual with a disability.


    October 30, 2016

    One of the common misconceptions about individuals who are visually impaired or blind is the belief that they can read and write Braille. In actuality, only about ten percent of people who are blind can read and write Braille.


    October 31, 2016

    The last "ugly law" was repealed in Chicago in 1974. These laws allowed police to arrest and jail people with "apparent" disabilities for no reason other than being disfigured or demonstrating some type of disability.