Increasing Access and Opportunity: Celebrating 30 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and 75 years of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)

This year is the nation's 75th observance of NDEAM, administered by DOL's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), which funds the Campaign for Disability Employment (CDE). The observance culminates in the Department's commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).


Despite the number of people with disabilities in the U.S. and the fact that they represent all races, classes, and cultures, many people are unaware of the disability movement's rich history. The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month traces back to 1945 when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year, "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.


Signed into law in July of 1990 by President George H. W. Bush, the ADA is "landmark civil rights legislation that works to increase access and opportunity for people with disabilities across society, including in the workplace." The legislation was modeled on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, making it "the most comprehensive disability rights legislation in history." ADA prohibits discrimination in job application procedures, hiring, advancement, termination, compensation, job training, and other employment areas.


Employers and employees in all industries can learn more about how to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month and ways to promote its messages — during October and throughout the year — by visiting www.dol.gov/NDEAM. In the end, the most critical way to advance the movement is to "just do it." Take action now to support the hiring, retention, and promotion of employees with disabilities. Visit WhatCanYouDo.org's WHERE TO LEARN MORE section for links to valuable tools and resources designed for employers, people with disabilities, family members, and educators.


"Ensuring that America's workplaces continue to include and accommodate people with disabilities will be an important part of our economic rebound," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia. "Looking ahead, the Department will remain focused on the policies that led to a strong economy and record-low unemployment rates for persons with disabilities before the pandemic. A vigorous economic rebound and job growth will, alongside the Americans with Disabilities Act, increase access and opportunity for Americans with disabilities."


Throughout October, RochesterWorks! will be showing our support for NDEAM, CDE, and ADA on our blog, in our newsletters, and on our social media pages. We'll be sharing PSA's produced by the CDE (and their video contest winners – one entry even features a Rochester local!), resources to help businesses and employers, blog posts on a variety of Disability Employment related topics, and more

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