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  • Writer's pictureArizona House Democrats

National Disability Employment Awareness Month Highlights Urgent Need for Workplace Inclusivity


Oct 2, 2023

PHOENIX – To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act, National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2023 has adopted the theme "Advancing Access and Equity." This significant milestone serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges still faced by people with disabilities in the workforce. The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has chosen a theme that echoes a collective call to action. "Advancing Access and Equity" underscores the need for tangible changes in workplace environments, attitudes, and policies.

"Despite decades of progress and increased awareness, individuals with disabilities continue to experience disproportionately high rates of unemployment and underemployment," said Representative Jennifer Longdon, a longtime advocate, both inside and outside the Legislature, for people living with disabilities. "Disability should never be a barrier to employment; instead, it should be seen as an opportunity to embrace diverse talents and perspectives."

This pressing issue demands a comprehensive response from society, businesses, and policymakers. To bridge the gap between promise and reality, the following actions are crucial:

1. Shifting Mindsets: It is imperative to challenge stereotypes and misconceptions about disability. People with disabilities bring a wealth of skills and experiences to the workplace, and recognizing these abilities is essential in fostering inclusivity.

2. Investment in Accessible Infrastructure and Technologies: Businesses and organizations must invest in accessible infrastructure and technologies. From physical accommodations to digital tools, these resources empower individuals with disabilities to perform their jobs efficiently and contribute meaningfully to their workplaces.

3. Promoting Inclusive Policies: Policymakers play a pivotal role in driving change. By enforcing anti-discrimination laws and promoting policies that incentivize inclusive hiring practices, governments can create an environment where businesses are encouraged to diversify their workforce.

4. Education and Awareness: Educational institutions should focus on nurturing empathy and understanding among students. By instilling these values at an early age, future generations will contribute to a society where inclusivity is a natural and fundamental aspect of every workplace.

Longdon added, "as we observe National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we urge individuals, businesses, and governments to reflect on the theme of 'Advancing Access and Equity' and recognize people with disabilities at innovative problem solvers. It is only through collective efforts, proactive measures, and a commitment to inclusivity that we can transform the promise of equal opportunities into a reality for all."

About National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM):

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) has been observed annually in October since 1945. It celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates about the value of a workforce inclusive of their skills and talents. NDEAM is led by the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) under the U.S. Department of Labor.

About the Rehabilitation Act:

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a landmark legislation that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by federal agencies, in programs receiving federal financial assistance, in federal employment, and in the employment practices of federal contractors. The act was pivotal in promoting equal opportunities and access for individuals with disabilities.

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