Observed annually in the United States during the month of October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities throughout American history. The goal of NDEAM is to highlight the skills and talents of workers with disabilities and promote inclusivity in the workplace environment. The campaign also aims to educate employers and the general public about the value of a diverse workforce that includes employees with disabilities.
How Does NDEAM Support People with Disabilities in the Workplace?
The month-long campaign showcases the skills and talents of workers with disabilities and helps to break down stereotypes and biases often held by other people. It emphasizes their capabilities and provides a platform for individuals with disabilities to share their success stories, demonstrating that those with disabilities can excel in a variety of occupations and contribute significantly to the workforce.
Government agencies, employers, advocacy groups, disability organizations such as United Disabilities Services (UDS), and communities across the country participate in NDEAM by organizing events, workshops, and other initiatives to promote the employment of individuals with disabilities. NDEAM plays an important role in advocating for a more inclusive and equitable workplace for people with disabilities by fostering awareness, understanding, and support from both employers and the general public.
NDEAM seeks to educate employers about certain factors that contribute to the barriers people with disabilities face in the workplace. NDEAM highlights best practice strategies to support employers and help them recognize adaptive changes that can be reasonably made for their employees with disabilities. By providing resources and information to employers and the general public, NDEAM broadens the scope of awareness that reinforces the value employees with disabilities have to the workforce.
NDEAM sheds light on the business benefits of hiring people with disabilities, such as increased innovation, improved problem-solving skills, and a more diverse customer base. As a result, businesses are more likely to see disability as an asset rather than a liability, leading to increased employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
NDEAM Changes Societal Attitudes Toward People with Disabilities in the Workplace
While there is still progress to be made, NDEAM has played a pivotal role in changing societal attitudes toward people with disabilities in the workplace. NDEAM has increased public awareness about the skills, talents, and abilities of individuals with disabilities. Its focus is on highlighting success stories and showcasing the achievements of workers with disabilities challenging preconceived stereotypes and misconceptions while promoting a more positive image of disabilities.
NDEAM emphasizes the capabilities of individuals with disabilities, focusing on what they can do rather than what they cannot. This change in perspective has influenced how society views individuals with disabilities in professional settings.
Through personal stories and experiences shared during NDEAM events, empathy and understanding for the challenges faced by people with disabilities has grown. An increased appreciation has translated into more supportive attitudes in the workplace, fostering an environment where employees with disabilities feel valued and respected.
NDEAM encourages partnerships between employers, and government agencies to allow for a more holistic understanding from each perspective. These collaborations lead to the implementation of programs and initiatives that support job training, job placement, and career development for people with disabilities, a cornerstone and fundamental mission at UDS.
The UDS Partnership: Preparing Employees with Disabilities and Employers for a Successful Workplace Relationship
UDS has employment counselors who work one-on-one with each person through every phase of the employment process. UDS’ Employment Services Program Manager, Nadine Kuziemkowski, talks about how their approach stands out because we “really try to cater to the people we work with, what their needs are and what their dream job is. We try our hardest to make the process simple so it’s not scary.” This includes resume creation, interview preparation, job skills development, transportation training, career counseling, on-the-job training and coaching, and so much more. By educating individuals and giving them the tools and training with real-world application individuals develop confidence, know-how, and are more likely to execute their job responsibilities ahead of the curve.
Qualified applicants can be hired on a trial internship basis to see if it’s a fit for both. To ensure long-term success, UDS offers advice on workplace accommodations for businesses that meet ADA standards. UDS also provides follow-up reviews to make sure the individual is performing to expectations. Working closely with businesses, Nadine says, “I have not worked with any businesses in recent years that were not accessible. Even if things were not perfect, they have always let us make suggestions and adjustments to make people more comfortable”.
Employers have discovered that hiring people with disabilities is both rewarding and good business sense. Companies that need hard-working full-time and part-time employees can hire based on a company’s needs and schedule. Nadine mentions that, “We have many businesses that we have worked with through the years that have had successful long-term employees, a few have worked at the same place for 20-plus years.” Many employers have indicated that the employee-employer relationship has been reciprocally beneficial. Not only do the employers have capable people completing necessary jobs, but the employee learns and grows by being given more difficult and challenging tasks.
In addition, specially trained counselors work closely with employers and provide on-the-job training for new employees with the goal of a long-term outcome. Nadine feels building a positive working connection that respects everyone’s needs will “allow us to make sure that the person is doing their job in the best way they can…and follow up regularly to ensure both sides are happy with their working relationship”.
UDS’ Vision and Plans for the Future to Increase Disability Employment Awareness
With over 55-plus years with a strong vision and commitment to helping all individuals under the people with disabilities umbrella, including seniors and veterans, UDS is always looking ahead to advance their services and programs that support the needs of individuals to lead more independent and fulfilling lives. This success requires others in the community to join our efforts and advocate for the needs of those with disabilities. There are many opportunities to get involved, become an employer, or support UDS’ ever-evolving services and programs.
Connect with UDS
Located in Lancaster, PA, UDS’ Employment Services are offered throughout Lancaster County. If you are someone with a disability who is seeking employment and doesn’t know where or how to start, UDS has the support you need. Contact UDS today.
Be Part of Our Mission
If you are an employer wanting to make a difference in someone’s life and want more information, contact UDS today.