NDEAM is a great time to freshen up bulletin boards in workplaces, schools, libraries or other community locations. Start by putting up this year's NDEAM poster, which is available in both English and Spanish. Additional display materials include the Campaign for Disability Employment's poster series.
Day #2 Review company policies
For employers, NDEAM presents an opportune time to review company policies to ensure they convey a commitment to workplace culture inclusive of people with disabilities. For assistance in doing so, read Business Strategies that Work: A Framework for Disability Inclusion (see in particular the first section, "Lead the Way: Inclusive Business Culture").
Day #3 Train supervisors
Employers can consider conducting training for supervisors to ensure they understand their role in fostering an inclusive workplace culture. Such training may include a review of relevant policies, including the process for providing reasonable accommodations. One easy way to provide such training is to make use of available "turn-key" training modules.
Employers, schools and community-based organizations can issue a press release to local media to announce their involvement in NDEAM. To assist, a "fill-in-the-blank" template is available that can be quickly customized.
Day #6 Participate in Disability Mentoring Day
Disability Mentoring Day promotes career development for youth with disabilities through hands-on programs, job shadowing and ongoing mentoring. The nationwide observance is the third Wednesday of each October, but employers may choose to host their own events on any day of the month (or year for that matter). The American Association of People with Disabilities offers information to assist in implementing a Disability Mentoring Day event.
For employers, NDEAM is a perfect time to launch a disability Employee Resource Group (ERG) if one doesn't already exist. Sometimes referred to as Employee Networks or Affinity Groups, ERGs offer employees an opportunity to connect and receive support from others with similar backgrounds or interests. For more information, see A Toolkit for Establishing and Maintaining Successful Employee Resource Groups. If your company already has a disability ERG, consider using NDEAM to remind employees about it through displays, information tables or other communication channels. Find more resources for employers at the Employer Assistance and Resource Network.
Schools can hold an assembly addressing the topic of disability employment, with content tailored as appropriate for age. Such an assembly might feature guest speakers from local disability service organizations and/or people with disabilities in various professions willing to talk about their jobs, interests and experiences. Related to this, it is important to ensure that any career exploration event, such as a traditional career day (whether held during NDEAM or any other time of year), includes the perspectives of people with disabilities.
In youth service provider organizations, it is imperative that staff have the knowledge, skills and abilities to effectively serve youth with disabilities, especially those transitioning from school to work. Key tools to assist in improving this capacity during NDEAM and all year round are available through ODEP's Youth Service Professionals KSA initiative and related training materials.
Day #13 Engage student leaders
In schools, faculty advisors to groups such as student councils and student-led media can suggest NDEAM as a possible hook for content during October. For example, a student council might invite a local community leader with a disability to a meeting to speak about his or her experiences. Likewise, student reporters might interview such an individual or write an article/produce a segment on the contributions of many famous people with disabilities throughout America's history.
Day #14 Feature NDEAMin your magazine or newsletter
For associations or unions,NDEAM offers timely and fresh content for magazines or newsletters. Articles can inform members about NDEAM and its purpose, as well as specific ideas for how members can implement relevant activities within their organization. To help, use one of the NDEAM "drop-in" articles that can be quickly tailored by inserting your organization's name where prompted.
Day #15 Post an NDEAM Web link
Whether you're an employer, school or service provider, an NDEAM link on your Home page demonstrates your commitment to advancing disability employment and keep your website dynamic and up to date. To create a link, use the NDEAM poster thumbnail image or a simple text headline and link it to an article on your website or directly to the list of ideas for employers and employees.
Day #16 Solicit an NDEAM proclamation
Disability-related organizations can cultivate community-wide support for NDEAM by asking their mayor, governor or other official to formally proclaim the event. A template that organizations can easily customize is available to assist in soliciting such a proclamation. In addition, community leaders could be encouraged to mention NDEAM during various public appearances leading up to and during October.
Day #17 Hold an NDEAM "management breakfast" or "brown-bag lunch"
For disability-related organizations, NDEAM is a great time to sponsor an informal seminar or panel presentation for local employers on the topic of disability employment and the benefits of a disability inclusive workplace. Such an event also offers the opportunity for disability-related organizations to promote their overall efforts and possibly earn additional sponsorships and support from local businesses.
Day #18 Reach out to local media
For disability-related organizations, NDEAM presents an opportunity to increase their visibility through local TV, radio and print media. Ideas include writing an op-ed piece or letter to the editor about the value and talent people with disabilities have to offer in the workplace and community or encouraging local TV or radio news to run a feature on one or more local employers observing the month.
Day #19 Access the WRP
During NDEAM and year round, both private and public employers can use the Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) to identify qualified, pre-screened college students and recent graduates with disabilities for summer and permanent positions for the coming year. The WRP is coordinated by ODEP and the U.S. Department of Defense, and its database of participants is updated annually.
Day #20 Take advantage of the Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
Employers, service providers and individuals can receive free, confidential and expert one-on-one guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues during NDEAM and year round from the Job Accommodation Network (JAN). Just visit AskJAN.org or call (800) 526-7234 or (877) 781-9403 (TTY).
Day #21 Assess eRecruiting Accessibility
Today, job application and on-boarding processes are increasingly conducted electronically. For employers, it is essential to ensure that all qualified applicants can get in the "virtual" door. NDEAM is a great time to assess the accessibility of the technical side of an organization's recruiting operations. To help, the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology (PEAT) developed TalentWorks a free tool to help employers and HR professionals ensure their eRecruiting tools are accessible to everyone.
Day #22 Join a business organization
For employers, NDEAM is a great time to learn how you can take action to expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities by joining a business organization committed to increasing the employment of people with disabilities.
Day #23 Foster Inclusive Internship Programs
During NDEAM, and all year round, employers should ensure their internship opportunities are open to all qualified candidates, including those with disabilities. For help in this area, check out ODEP's Inclusive Internship Programs: A How-to Guide for Employers. The free publication discusses the value of internships and effective practices for recruiting and retaining interns with disabilities.
Day #24 Educate about TBI, PTSD and Employment
With NDEAM winding down and Veterans Day just a few weeks away, employers should consider educating their workforce about not only those disabilities that can be seen, but also those that cannot, including the "hidden wounds of war." The TBI, PTSD & Employment Training e-learning tool offers an easy way to do so.
Day #25 Share the "Because" PSA
The Campaign for Disability Employment's "Because" public service announcement reminds us to instill the expectation of employment in young people with disabilities. Consider sharing it with colleagues, friends and loved ones during NDEAM to reinforce the importance of life experiences that can lead to the employment of people with disabilities. The PSA features seven people who are pursuing and realizing their goals and passions as a result of the support and encouragement they received from everyday people in their lives.
Day #26 Share the "I Can" PSA
The Campaign for Disability Employment's award-winning "I Can" Public Service Announcement (PSA) features seven people with disabilities not actors sharing what they can do when given the opportunity. NDEAM is a great time to share it among friends and family as a way to reinforce the campaign's core message that "at work, it's what people CAN do that matters."
Day #27 Share the "Who I Am" PSA
The Campaign for Disability Employment's "Who I Am" public service announcement is particularly relevant to NDEAM this year, given its theme of "My disability is one part of who I am." In it, nine real people with disabilities illustrate that rather than be defined by disability, they are the sum of their many life roles – which includes working in jobs they love. It is a great time to share this PSA and spread its important message about seeing the whole person rather than just their disability.
Day #28 Help Youth Sharpen their "Soft" Skills
During NDEAM and all year round, educators and youth service providers can help youth both with and without disabilities sharpen their workplace readiness skills by ordering and using the "Skills to Pay the Bills: Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success" series, which includes a classroom-style curriculum and set of videos with accompanying discussion guide. The curriculum comprises modular, hands-on activities that focus on six key interpersonal skills. The video series can be used as a complement to the curriculum or alone. Mail-order DVDs of the videos include a discussion guide with "conversation starters" to help spark discussions among youth about the importance of interpersonal skills to career and personal success.
Day #29 Proactively Recruit People with Disabilities
During NDEAM, employers can identify strategies for proactively advertising job openings where they may be more likely to reach candidates with disabilities. Examples include American Job Centers, state vocational rehabilitation agencies, Employment Networks under the Ticket to Work program, independent living centers, and Department of Veterans Affairs regional offices. Disability student services offices at educational institutions and non-profit and social service agencies may also be of assistance.