What is NDEAM and Why is it Important?
NDEAM stands for National Disability Employment Awareness Month. NDEAM’s goal is to spotlight the contributions of individuals with disabilities of the U.S. workforce, as well as educate the workforce on related issues. This year’s theme is “Advancing Access and Equity.” This month also showcases supportive and inclusive policies and practices that benefit both employers and employees.
The history of NDEAM traces back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” The declaration was part of an organized effort to educate the public about issues surrounding disabilities and employment. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
People with disabilities face many barriers to good health and are often more susceptible to preventable health problems that decrease their overall health and quality of life. Secondary conditions such as pain, fatigue, obesity, and depression can occur in addition to having a disabling condition.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of February 2021, the national unemployment rate for people with disabilities was 12.6 percent. This is the highest number in seven years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment rate increased for all individuals, however, rates of joblessness were even higher for individuals with disabilities.
According to the CDC:
- Disability affects approximately 61 million people in the United States.
- Adults with disabilities are more likely to smoke, have obesity, have heart disease, and have diabetes.
- Women with disabilities are less likely to have received a mammogram compared to women without disabilities.
- 1 in 4 adults with disabilities between the ages of 18-44 have an unmet health care need because of cost.
- Adults with disabilities report experiencing frequent mental distress almost 5x as often as adults without disabilities.
How can I recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month?
- Learn the facts.
- Establish an employee resource group (ERG).
- Highlight NDEAM on social media.
- Plan events with inclusivity in mind.
- Support a disability charity.
- Host a book club that highlights a disabled author or features a book on disability issues.
- Participate in the 31 Days of NDEAM.