National Disability Employment Awareness Month

The US Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy,  announced the theme for NDEAM 2021, “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion,” reflects the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week was established in 1945 by Congress for the first week in October. In 1998 it was renamed National Disability Employment Awareness Month and extended to the entire month of October. In 2001 the Office of Disability Employment Policy took over promoting and maintaining National Disability Employment Awareness Month.



The US Department of Labor is one of the main resources where you can learn more about disability history. They also created the “I Can” public service announcement which is a useful tool to help start a discussion about the benefits of fostering a work environment that is flexible and open to the talents of all qualified individuals, including those with disabilities.

Division Spotlights


  • Tony Coelho – former congressman from California, primary author and U.S. House sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Haben Girma – first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School in 2013
  • Edward Roberts – first quadriplegic to attend the University of California, Berkeley; his fight for access at Berkeley spread into seeking access in the community and the development of the first Centre for Independent Living
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver – lifelong advocate for people with intellectual disabilities who founded Special Olympics International in 1968
  • Judith Heumann – wheelchair user who co-founded the World Institute on Disability; served as its co-director from 1983 to 1993; became the Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the U.S. Department of State
  • Rick Hansen – former Canadian Paralympian; raised $20 million for spinal cord research, rehabilitation and wheelchair sports by travelling by wheelchair through 34 countries

Proper Etiquette

We can all learn to be more inclusive of our current and future disabled employees. Proper etiquette is one of many ways we can ensure we are welcoming and the employee is comfortable and productive in the workplace.

Personal Social Media Tips You Can Use to Help Be More Inclusive to the Disability Community

  • Write social media posts informally and in plain language. Avoid abbreviations and spell out acronyms.
  • Use @mentions to tag other organizations on social media and use relevant hashtags on keywords and phrases to categorize posts.
  • For multi-word hashtags, capitalize the first letters of each section of a compound word (#LikeThisExample).
  • Provide closed captioning for YouTube videos. You can do this automatically, or you can add and edit captions manually.
  • Add captions to Facebook video posts. Make sure captions are turned on for live videos.
  • Link to pages with full captions or transcripts of photos, videos or audio.
  • Avoid using emojis, or at least refrain from using excessive emojis in posts.
  • Describe your photos in the caption of social media posts on Instagram.
  • Turn on image description settings in Twitter and compose descriptive text to make images accessible. Note that this setting doesn’t work for GIFs.
  • Add and edit alternative text descriptions to images posted on Facebook.
  • If possible, test your tweet with assistive technology before posting it.