Resources Built From This Year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month

National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Graphic shows a map of the united states that reads "Americas recovery: powered by inclusion"

October of each year is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), a time to celebrate and honor the contributions of people with disabilities in our workforce. The theme of NDEAM 2021 was “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion,” reflecting the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during national recovery from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) recognizes that promoting employment for people with disabilities is vital every month of the year. TCDD’s public policy priorities state, “Texans with disabilities deserve access to competitive and integrated employment opportunities.” In observance of NDEAM 2021, TCDD found multiple ways to spread awareness and resources on employment throughout the month of October.  

Below are some of the highlights: 

Disability Employment Webinar Series  

TCDD Regional Coordinators held two live webinar sessions in October on disability employment-related topics. The first session explored the importance of identifying the roles of family members and other support people involved in the career preparation and job searches of people with developmental disabilities. The second session provided practical strategies for creating effective resumes and determining key skills and experiences to highlight. Both sessions are still available online! You can access information from these webinars on the TCDD website. This webinar series is not over; mark your calendar and check out upcoming webinar sessions that will take place this fall.  

Live Q&A with Lauren Gerken 

On October 21, Lauren Gerken, TCDD Public Policy Analyst, and Mary Rochford, TCDD Communications Coordinator, hosted a Facebook live question-and-answer event. Through this Disability Employment Q&A, Gerken answered common questions regarding disability and employment and spoke on how to recognize and stop ableism in the workplace. You can watch this video and access shareable Q&A graphics on the TCDD Facebook page. We have also created a one-pager on ableism in the workplace, which can be found on the TCDD website.  

My Day My Way Mini-Grants 

In recent years, TCDD has offered one-year funding opportunities to support more people with disabilities in getting employment in their communities and having purposeful days when not working. These My Day My Way Mini-Grants encouraged projects that tested models and built organizational capacity to help people with disabilities achieve meaningful outcomes. You can read more about these projects and their impact on the TCDD website

Among the organizations with projects funded through the mini-grants were:  

  • Community Healthcore, which developed employment training materials that were used to train 75 individuals; 
  • Best Buddies International, which provided 41 people with developmental disabilities with increased access to information about diverse employment opportunities at six companies in North Texas and in Houston and direct engagement with decision-makers at the companies; and 
  • nonPareil Institute, which provided technical education together with social and interpersonal skills education leading to independence. 

Under the terms of the TCDD Request for Applications, organizations receiving these mini-grants join a collaborative learning community to share their work, including barriers and successes, to improve person-centered outcomes and to provide peer support to future grantees. The first meeting of this community will take place in November.  

TCDD will use information from the collaborative learning community as a resource for other organizations looking to help people with disabilities find meaningful employment or engagement in their communities. 

Texas Faith and Disability Network  

The development of Texas Faith and Disability Network (TxFDN) started in 2015 by dedicated volunteers with expertise and experience in faith networks and disability fields in Texas. Their focus is to connect statewide initiatives in promoting inclusive faith support created through four grant projects funded by TCDD. The TxFDN website offers a range of resources, including the newly authored blog, Putting Faith to Work: How Faith Communities Can Support Employment for People with Disabilities, found on the Administration for Community Living website. Putting Faith to Work is a practical approach for tapping the incredible social capital that exists within faith communities to help support people with disabilities in finding meaningful work. 

The Organization Making Waves in Employment First 

TCDD also featured the work of the Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) in October. APSE is the only national organization that works exclusively on developing and implementing Employment First, which is a policy that enforces the full inclusion of people with disabilities with competitive integrated employment. You can learn more about APSE on the TCDD website 

Disability Employment Awareness is a Year-Round Effort  

As NDEAM 2021 comes to a close, TCDD looks forward to continuing initiatives for people with developmental disabilities to have access to competitive, integrated employment of their choosing. Disability employment awareness is a year-round effort. You can continue to access resources on the TCDD website, get involved with TCDD’s advocacy opportunities, and learn more about our public policy priorities


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