Disability advocates across the U.S. celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) in October of each year. NDEAM recognizes the importance of a diverse and inclusive American workforce and celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities. Led by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy, the theme of NDEAM 2022 was “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation.”
Even though NDEAM 2022 has ended, promoting inclusive employment for people with disabilities doesn’t stop. Here are some highlights from last month’s recognition and some information and resources to help continue these efforts year-round.
Partners Alumni: Working Hard So Others Can Too
To continue progress made since NDEAM was first recognized in 1945, disability advocates continue making strides in Texas. Many alumni of the Texas Partners in Policymaking program have created projects to improve conditions and supports for Texans with disabilities seeking employment. These projects not only made immediate impacts on the lives of people with disabilities; they also provided examples of how advocates can take action to make their communities more inclusive places for workers with disabilities.
Visit the Texas Partners website to learn more about the following projects:
- Akili Atkinson created training to help workers with autism and employers who hire workers with autism.
- Evelyn Cano established the Disability Chamber of Commerce in Rio Grande Valley, the fourth disability chamber in the nation.
- Stephanie Picazo, in collaboration with Elizabeth Hinojosa and Katy McBeth, created an advocacy support program for people with disabilities who want to seek employment but have concerns about losing benefits as a result.
- Merideth Silcox developed a disability employee resources group at the YMCA of the USA to support employees and managers on hiring, leading, and supporting employees with disabilities.
Disability Employment Webinars
On the TCDD website, you can find recordings and materials from disability employment webinars led by our regional coordinators. These webinars bring together self-advocates, employers, and other experts to cover best practices in promoting inclusive employment and supporting people with disabilities in finding meaningful employment.
Webinar topics include:
- developing soft skills for success in the workplace;
- vocational rehabilitation services and training;
- family supports and roles in the job search; and
- practical skills for workplace preparation.
Share Your Employment Policy Story
TCDD recently released its Public Policy Priorities (PDF, 13 MB, 14 pages) for the upcoming Texas legislative session. The priorities include recommendations for legislators on a variety of disability topics, including ones related to inclusive employment.
To better promote the priorities at the Capitol, we’re gathering stories from people with disabilities, their family members, and professionals in the DD field. You can share your story using our online survey. The deadline to share your story is Nov. 18.
We’re seeking information on how the priorities relate to real-life situations and affect people with DD in Texas. We’ll share these with lawmakers and their staff as we make the case for policy change. Other priority topics include accessibility, attendant wages and training, early childhood intervention, health and safety, inclusive education, personal and civil rights, and more.
Lex Frieden Employment Awards
Named in honor of the disability rights champion and independent living movement leader, the Lex Frieden Employment Awards recognize best practices by employers in hiring and retaining employees with disabilities. Awarded by the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities (GCPD), the awards are given in multiple categories: the Governor’s Trophy, awarded to the person who has achieved the highest success in enhancing the empowerment and employment of Texans with disabilities; the Entrepreneurship Award, for a business owner with a disability; Employer Awards, for employers who go above and beyond legal requirements for employing people with disabilities; and the Martha Arbuckle Award, for an exemplary community project by a Local Committee.
Learn more about this year’s winners on the GCPD website.
NDEAM Poster Winner
Each year, the GCPD partners with the Texas Workforce Commission on a campaign that distributes free posters to thousands of Texas employers to raise awareness of the abilities of workers with disabilities and share valuable inclusive employment resources from the Texas HireAbility website. The posters feature original designs from Texas artists and are selected each year through an online contest.
Visit the GCPD website to learn about this year’s poster and featured artist.