National Disabilities 

As we turn the calendar and move into December, let’s take a moment to reflect on an important milestone that is celebrated every October – National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).

2020 has been particularly noteworthy as it marked the 75th observance of NDEAM, as well as the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

NDEAM celebrates America’s workers with disabilities and stresses to employers the importance of inclusive hiring practices. Each year the Office of Disability Employment Policy selects a central theme that is celebrated at various ceremonies throughout the nation. This year’s theme was “Increasing Access and Opportunity”.

As a long-standing advocate for the employment and advancement of people with disabilities, NDEAM is always an amazing month-long celebration. As someone who has hired hundreds of people with disabilities over the years, I have had the privilege of being a regular and active participant in many NDEAM events throughout the state. I have served as a keynote speaker at several ceremonies, and been afforded the opportunity to advocate for those with either physical or developmental disabilities. I have been able to convey through my personal experiences the myriad benefits of employing such individuals.

This year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we did not have any in-person events. That did not stop NDEAM from being recognized on Long Island and throughout New York State. There were multiple virtual celebrations which highlighted success stories of both individuals and companies doing great work.

Our nation’s unemployment rates are staggering right now. What is even more staggering is that the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is significantly higher. It is such a shame, as employers are missing out on so much great, available talent. There are so many capable workers that are searching for an opportunity to prove their worth and make great contributions within the workforce.

I humbly ask anyone reading this to make NDEAM a year-round celebration by advocating for the employment of people with disabilities. Take it from someone who has hired numerous blind, hearing impaired, and autistic people, you will not regret your decision. It is both the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.

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