Press release from WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced that “Increasing        Access and Opportunity” is the 2020 theme for October’s annual observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).


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


“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 prior to the pandemic. A vigorous economic rebound and job growth will, alongside the Americans with Disabilities Act, increase access and opportunity for Americans with disabilities.”


“People with disabilities are experienced problem solvers with a proven ability to adapt,” said Office of Disability Employment Policy Deputy Assistant Secretary, Jennifer Sheehy. “Now more than ever, flexibility is important for both workers and employers. National Disability Employment Awareness Month celebrates the ingenuity people with disabilities bring to America’s workplaces.”


Each October, NDEAM celebrates America’s workers with disabilities and reminds employers of the importance of inclusive hiring practices. In 1945, Congress declared the first week of October “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was dropped to include individuals with all types of disabilities. Congress expanded the week to a month in 1988, and changed the commemoration to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.


With its 2001 establishment, ODEP assumed responsibility for NDEAM. The agency’s efforts include selection of NDEAM’s annual theme, announced earlier in the year to enable organizations nationwide to plan their own observances. Employers of any size, in any industry – as well as community organizations, advocacy groups and schools – are encouraged to participate.


For more information about NDEAM, including ideas for how your organization can participate, visit The website also features the 2020 NDEAM poster, highlighting ADA’s 30th anniversary.


The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.


From the Arc of the Quad Cities Area development:

October is Disability Employment Awareness Month and 2020 marks the 75th anniversary as well as the 30th Anniversary of the Adults with Disabilities Act. This year’s theme is ‘Increasing Access and Opportunity’. For Disability Employment Awareness Month we reached out to a business that has firsthand experience in hiring and retaining people with disabilities and enjoys a great relationship with The Arc. HyVee located in Rock Island on 18th Avenue works with The Arc to give individuals with disabilities opportunities for employment. Kelly Gray, manager for human resources at this location, spoke to us about the benefits of hiring people with disabilities.


Kelly said that relationships between the people with disabilities and their coworkers is one that involves a lot of communication. She explains that when the individuals from The Arc are placed in a position that works best for them, The Arc provides one to one supports to make sure they develop relationships with their coworkers and everyone is made to feel comfortable. These relationships are important not only to the individuals but also to their coworkers. Kelly said “working with the individuals teaches people to be more accepting of everybody” and makes for a more cohesive and accepting workforce. Including people with disabilities in diversity targets creates a positive work environment for everyone, and changes people’s lives.


Kelly thinks it is important to have opportunities for individuals to learn how to earn a paycheck, grow into responsibility, and are given opportunities to  work with others. She says that she loves working with The Arc because she knows that people with disabilities are responsible and reliable. Kelly said “I love that I can call The Arc and get a recommendation for a worker that I know will be great”. We are thankful to have a great partner with the Rock Island HyVee that gives individuals with disabilities amazing employment opportunities. Thank you Rock Island HyVee!

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