National Disability Employment Awareness Month: What You Need to Know
October 2023 is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), which is led by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). NDEAM’s mission is to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of America’s workers with disabilities, both past and present, and to showcase inclusive and supportive practices and policies that benefit employees and employees alike.
The theme for 2023 is "Advancing Access and Equity"1
2023 also marks the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which marks an important milestone in the “ongoing quest to advance access and equity for all Americans”.1
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 laid the groundwork for the 1990 passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Disability Discrimination: A Work in Progress
In 2022, 21.3% of people with a disability were employed, which is an increase of about 2% from 20212.
By way of comparison, in 2022 65.4% of non-disabled people were employed. So while it is encouraging to see an increase in employment rates for people with a disability, there is still more work to do.
It is vital for all employers to access resources and knowledge about hiring more employees who have disabilities. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy offers a multitude of resources for employers about the recruitment, hiring, retention, accommodations, and career advancement of people with disabilities for organizations of all sizes, including small businesses.
Some employers may feel apprehensive about how to go about hiring a workforce with disabilities, fearing they may say or do something inappropriate or offensive, even inadvertently.
Hiring People with Disabilities: Information for Employers
Employees with disabilities often bring unique perspectives and skills to an opportunity that can offer great value, such as resourcefulness, the ability to adapt to new situations and/or obstacles, resiliency, creativity, and determination.
All employers should do research and become familiar with relevant laws regarding hiring workers with disabilities. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) makes it clear interviewers may only ask about a person’s disability if the person has an ‘obvious and visible impairment’ as it pertains to the job in question.
Further, if a visible impairment is present, potential employers may only ask about a person’s abilities to perform the job in regards to what accommodations he/she needs to be as successful as possible in the position.
Asking about what job modifications would be helpful to a candidate with a disability demonstrates a proactive approach to their future success and removes the stress, from the candidate’s perspective, that what they need won’t be made available by the prospective employer.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Even employers with good intentions can make inadvertent mistakes when hiring candidates with disabilities.
By far the most common mistake is focusing more on a candidate’s disability than their abilities. It’s crucial that employers ask all candidates the same questions related to their qualifications as they pertain to the job requirements, including those with a disability.
“The only disability is when people cannot see human potential.”
~ Debra Ruh, CEO Ruh Global Communications
If the best candidate for the position happens to be someone with a disability, avoid treating the new hire differently. Special treatment is neither needed nor wanted. An employee’s disability is also not a reason to withhold or sugarcoat constructive feedback or areas in need of improvement.
Additionally, when recruiting for roles, it’s not necessary for the positions to be marketed as “jobs for disabled people.” Creating equality in the workplace starts from the beginning of the hiring process.
Job Resources for Disabled People
While people with disabilities can have a difficult time finding fulfilling employment that is well-suited to their interests and skills, there are government and corporate disability employment services working to remove barriers and help people get to work.
“In this country, disability has been tied to a diagnosis and a label. And when you identify people by a label, then you start to make assumptions about what they can and can’t do. And my experience is if you’ve met one person with a disability, then you’ve met one person with a disability. Just like any other diversity group.”
~ Kathy West-Evans, Director of Business Relations at the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation
The Social Security Administration has a helpful resource, “Ticket to Work”, that outlines resources available from popular recruitment resources.
Some organizations that help with job skills and job searches include:
Resources for job seekers at the Campaign for Disability Employment
ENEMEEZⓇ and Employment
For those with disabilities, bowel management can often be a challenge that can create obstacles in day-to-day life, including maintaining comfort in the workplace. A bowel management program is essential to being able to get through the workday without fear of accidents or discomfort.
Mini-enemas, like ENEMEEZ®, can be a gentle, effective way to produce a fast bowel movement. ENEMEEZ® mini-enemas lubricate and soften stool, as well as draw moisture from the surrounding tissues into the stool to stimulate evacuation. ENEMEEZ® can help those with disabilities maintain the freedom to work while reducing the risk of discomfort, illness, or accidents associated with bowel issues.
In fact, our 2022 Consumer Survey reveals that ENEMEEZ® customers are so satisfied with the quality of life our products help provide that over two-thirds of participants have been using ENEMEEZ® Mini Enemas at a minimum of two to three times per week for over five years.
The Office of Employment Disability Policy offers several initiatives to assist employers with hiring individuals with disabilities, including:
- Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion
- Job Accommodation Network
- Small Business & Disability Employment
- Professional Development and Advancement
Join the Thrive Community!
Join our safe space for inspiring individuals with disabilities in our very own Thrive Community! The Thrive Community Facebook Group is a private space for any person with a disability, as well as caregivers and healthcare providers that touch their lives.
Our purpose is to provide a safe, educational space for group members to ask every question, connect with their peers, and empower each other through communication and connection. Our conversations are led by incredible individuals who themselves are living and thriving. For more enlightening resources, information, and discussion, join the ENEMEEZ® Thrive Community today!
Disclaimer: The material contained is for reference purposes only. Quest Healthcare, A Division of Quest Products, LLC, does not assume responsibility for patient care. Consult a physician prior to use. Copyright 2023 Quest Healthcare, A Division of Quest Products, LLC.
- NDEAM 2023: Advancing Access and Equity | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov)
- Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics - 2022 (bls.gov)