By Allison Hiltz
More than 70 years have passed since wounded veterans returned from World War II looking for work, prompting a focus on hiring those with physical disabilities.
Thankfully, the support for the millions of workers in America with disabilities remains steadfast. Every October, lawmakers, activists, and residents celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) to shine a light on the success and contributions workers with disabilities bring to the American workforce.
This year’s theme is Inclusion Drives Innovation.
In the spirit of NDEAM, some state lawmakers have taken active steps to promote and participate in events that raise awareness about disability employment issues. Texas Representative Eddie Lucio (D), for example, recognized Deaf Awareness Week and encouraged constituents to get involved with the myriad of activities available.
The Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) works with various states in support of Take Your Legislator to Work Day, a unique effort to further commemorate NDEAM. According to APSE, the effort is designed to, “raise awareness about the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities and the belief that employment and careers should be the expected and preferred outcomes of all publicly funded services for individuals with disabilities.” Representatives from Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin are among the states that have participated in this activity.
To find out more about NDEAM and how you can join in or sponsor an event in your own state or locality, visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s NDEAM resource page. To learn more about NCSL’s work in support of disability employment, please visit our disability employment resource page, which includes relevant blog posts and LegisBriefs, a disability employment legislative database, "Work Matters: A Framework for States on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities" and more.
Allison Hiltz is a policy associate in the Employment, Labor and Retirement program.