National Disability Employment Awareness Month
Ideas for State Governors, Legislators and Other Policymakers
Governors, state legislators and other policymakers can play a key role in advancing the spirit of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The ideas below are just a few ways they can participate, during the month of October, and all year long.
- Take Your Legislator to Work Day (TYLTWD) Experience the power of community-integrated employment by shadowing an employee with a disability at his or her workplace. TYLTWD is an extension of NDEAM that highlights the importance of Employment First policies and legislation. Georgia was one of the first states to participate and has a good model to emulate.
- Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day Establish an annual Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day to explore bills that will help improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities. For example, the New York State Assembly has used the day to highlight disability rights and pass a package of bills aimed at empowering people with disabilities.
- Create an NDEAM proclamation or statement Release a proclamation or statement recognizing NDEAM that reaffirms your state's commitment to creating an inclusive workplace culture for job seekers and employees with disabilities. ODEP offers sample NDEAM proclamation language on its website.
- Sign 'State as a Model Employer' executive orders Governors can sign executive orders to examine state policies and create taskforces that study workforce development for people with disabilities. For examples of policy ideas to include, visit the Work Matters: A Framework for States on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities or the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion's (EARN) model framework, "Joint Resolution or Executive Order for States as Model Employers of People with Disabilities."
- Create a display NDEAM is a great time to freshen up bulletin boards in break areas or other locations that staff members frequent by posting positive messages about your office's commitment to a disability-inclusive workforce. Start by putting up this year's NDEAM poster, which is available in both English and Spanish. Additional display materials include the "What Can YOU Do?" poster series.
- Educate staff members It is critical that offices committed to disability inclusion effectively and regularly reinforce that commitment to staff. NDEAM offers an opportunity to do this through disability training or informal educational events such as brown-bag lunch discussions. Several ready-to-use resources can assist in facilitating such activities, such as disability etiquette materials and the "I Can" public service announcement and accompanying workplace discussion guide. Another option is to contact local disability organizations to see if they offer workplace training programs.
- Feature NDEAM in social media activities Likewise, NDEAM provides an interesting hook for social media platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. For the latter, organizations are encouraged to include the hashtag #NDEAM. Sample postings and tweets are available to assist in incorporating NDEAM into social media activities.
- Issue an NDEAM press release Policymakers can also issue a press release to local media and distribute it through email lists to announce their involvement in NDEAM. To assist, a "fill-in-the-blank" template is available that policymakers can quickly customize and pitch to their local media.
- Post an NDEAM web link An NDEAM link on your Home page informs constituents and other visitors about information of interest to them while also helping to 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.
- Develop a disability employment webpage NDEAM is a great time to unveil a dedicated disability employment web page listing tools and resources to help visitors understand related issues and implement steps to foster a disability-inclusive workplace. Two examples of resources to include are the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) and EARN. For additional ideas on things to include on such a page, visit the ODEP website.
- Advocate for a Disability History Awareness Initiative Some states have legislation in place that requires schools to teach about disability history each year. For information about these initiatives - and guidance on how to advocate for one in a state without - see Establishing Disability History Awareness Initiatives - A Roadmap for States and Territories. This resource features strategies and suggestions for mobilizing public support and passing the necessary legislation, as well as sample language for such legislation and the contact information for those who have helped other states succeed in their endeavors.
- 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 policymakers 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 (AAPD) offers information to assist in implementing a Disability Mentoring Day event.
- Reach out to local media NDEAM presents an opportunity for organizations 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.