October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

What is National Disability Employment Awareness Month? See these resources available through Michigan 4-H to support workforce development.

Held each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. National Disability Employment Awareness Month has been celebrated for more than 70 years. The theme for 2016 is “#InclusionWorks.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, National Disability Employment Awareness Months’ roots go 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.” Upon its establishment in 2001, the Office of Disability Employment Policy assumed responsibility for National Disability Employment Awareness Month and has worked to expand its reach and scope ever since.

Employers and employees in all industries can learn more about how to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month and ways they can promote its messages—during October and throughout the year—by visiting the National Disability Employment Awareness Month website. Michigan State University Extension has 4-H Youth Development have resources available to help those with disabilities be successful in preparing for the world of work. Learn more about the success I have had teaching workforce preparation to young people with disabilities by reading my article “Inclusive workforce preparation offers win-win,” and the activity I did during a past Festival of Families in Berrien County.

Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development help to prepare young people for successful futures. As a result of career exploration and workforce preparation activities, thousands of Michigan youth are better equipped to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives. To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H career preparation, money management and entrepreneurship programs, read the 2015 Impact Report: “Preparing Michigan Youth for Future Careers and Employment.”

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