Access Angle: Celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Gabriel Ryan, School Health Blog Writer and Contributor

Celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Every October, the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy, along with state and local organizations, recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The purpose of NDEAM is to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. This is the 76th Anniversary of NDEAM and this year's theme is "America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion". To bring national awareness, the White House has issued a proclamation on their website related to this National Disability Employment Awareness Month, 2021. The history of NDEAM dates back to 1945.


  • 1945: Congress designated the first week in October to recognize the skills and contributions of people with physical disabilities.
  • 1962: The language was broadened to include all disabilities.
  • 1988: Congress expanded the week to a month and renamed it National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)

All are invited to join the U.S Secretary of Labor, Marty Walsh, and Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy, Taryn Williams and others across the nation on October 20th, 2021, at the National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) Virtual Celebration. This is an opportunity to learn more and hear from leaders and change makers supporting the continued efforts.

There are a wealth of materials available for employers and educators to promote National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Beyond the awareness month, there are several informative resources on websites such as, where accessibility in the workplace and accessibility in education are highlighted. Another useful resource is the ADA National Network. Their purpose is to provide information, guidance, and training on how to implement the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). They serve businesses, employers, state and local governments, disability organizations and individuals with disabilities whose rights are protected under the ADA.

In celebration of varied contributions of workers with disabilities, through an inclusive lens, I’d like to highlight some fantastic examples I encourage you to read more about.


Founded in 2011, Mozzeria cooks up authentic wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas and offers an experience in Deaf culture while working to increase career placement opportunities for Deaf people. Mozzeria is proud to be a place where employees can demonstrate their talent and feel a shared sense of belonging.

Ada’s Café

Ada's Cafe is a non-profit corporation dedicated to hiring, training and empowering employees with disabilities. Where Good Food and Community Meet. Ada's also conducts collaborative research on improving workplaces for people with disabilities. 

Vertical Harvest

Provides inclusive employment for underserved populations in the vertical farms programs. These employees grow food for the local communities in vertical greenhouses located in urban environments. Watch their award-winning independent documentary Hearts of Glass.


A national cookie business founded by Collette Divitto, who was born with Down Syndrome. Collettey’s has a mission to create jobs for people with disabilities, change public perception of how capable this population is, and they work with law makers in Washington D.C. on policies to support employees with disabilities.

Josh Blue

An entertainment icon, Josh has a huge presence on social media with over one million views on his YouTube clips and almost one million followers on Facebook. He is a comic who has Cerebral Palsy and is my personal favorite. His comedy and wit are enjoyed by people with and without disabilities.

Microsoft-Supported Employment Program

Their mission is to partner with vendors and local employment agencies to make a substantial difference in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Workers receive wages and benefits from their vendor employers, plus the social benefits of working alongside colleagues of all abilities.

"There was a whole group of people out there that could do the job as well or better, that we were unjustly leaving behind," says Randy Lewis, a former SVP at Walgreens. “I think we have demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that people with disabilities can do the job. Try it, if it doesn’t work what did you really loose? It will take a lot more people doing it, but if we can move the world that millionth of an makes it all worthwhile.”  Learn more about Randy Lewis and Walgreens approach to including workers with disabilities through this brief video, Employers Rarely Hire People With Disabilities. Here's Why They Should.

My personal example of a creative employment opportunity is with the School Health Corporation. Eight years ago, they offered me an interview for a blog writer position. They were interested in bringing in my perspective and experience as a person with a disability who is familiar with accessibility, assistive technology, and inclusion in everyday situations. Over time my role in the company has expanded to also include co-presenting at conferences, representing at exhibitor events, participating in department and companywide meetings, and serving as a thought partner on various projects and products. I’m proud to promote the resources and products our company offers and hand out my business cards wherever I go.

Often employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities are hard to find or don’t yet exist. When an individual comes along with skills and talents to share, and a business is willing to create a role or adjust the environment to support that person’s contribution, both individuals and companies thrive.

“We will all profit from a more diverse, inclusive society, understanding, accommodating, even celebrating our differences, while pulling together for the common good.”~ Ruth Bader Ginsburg


Posted in School Health and Access Angle Segment