It’s NDEAM: Let’s Look Back, Advocate, and Plan for Gainful Employment

Young woman sitting at a Braille machine with headphones around her neck working. NDEAM

Hello, October, arguably the most magnificent month—not only because of the sensational scents, sights, and sips of fall but also because October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, NDEAM for short. In celebration: We stop and remember. We educate others. We plan and gear up for gainful employment. 

Why? Because, as is the 2021 NDEAM theme, America’s recovery is powered by inclusion. Let’s propel our country forward. 

And because any individual who wants to be gainfully employed should be, which of course includes those who are blind or low vision.  

Stop and Remember 

Every NDEAM we pause and reflect on how far our country has come in workplace accessibility for people with disabilities, including blindness and low vision.  

Read the history of civil rights laws affecting people with disabilities in Disability in the Work Place. The Disability Rights Movement is impressive, powered by people who care enough to advocate for change. 

Speaking of advocacy… 

Educate Others 

Every NDEAM we educate and advocate within the platforms we have been given. Depending on your current roles and responsibilities, you may  

  • make a difference as an employer or employee, participating in ways such as training and educating, taking part in Disability Mentoring Day, or establishing a disability Employment Resource Group 
  • make a difference in your social network, sharing your own employment story or success stories of other employed individuals who happen to be blind or visually impaired 
  • make a difference for those with disabilities by self-advocating for change when you are aware of a disability rights or safety issue. Check out Alexis Read Story: The Importance of Self-Advocacy. When you advocate for yourself, you are advocating for those who walk beside or behind you. 

Thankfully, the U.S. Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) makes it easier to educate and advocate. According to their website, “ODEP offers a range of resources to help employers and other organizations plan NDEAM observances, including not only the official poster, but also sample articles, a press release, proclamation and social media content.”  

Plan and Gear Up for the Future 

If you are looking forward to a first job, are between jobs, or are looking to advance in your career, you’re in luck. Every NDEAM we refocus on preparing for gainful employment. 

The following can support you on your career journey: 

Additionally, allow me to present a remarkable, new resource from Mississippi State University’s National Technical Assistance on Blindness and Low Vision: the 4to24 mobile app. The purpose of the app is to provide incremental skill development and experiences by sending suggested activities and accompanying resources such as CareerConnect articles to youth and young adults (and for parents of children who are blind or low vision), in effort to address all areas of the ECC, preparing one for a satisfying life and gainful employment. 

As stated on their informational site

“The 4to24 mobile app is a resource for parents of children and youth who are blind or have low vision and are between the ages of 4 and 24 years. Youth with blindness or low vision who are ages 16 to 24 can also use the app and will receive information about the same topics, written specifically for a younger audience. 

…The app provides information, activities, and links to resources to inform you about skills and experiences that would be helpful…The focus is on building independence over time…for successful employment and independent living as an adult. 

The app provides modules of information on topics like building social skills, literacy, technology, academics, and daily living skills. Modules are self-paced (no deadlines!) so you can use the information at your convenience.” 

With resources such as CareerConnect, the 4to24 app, and Perkins’ Compass Program, you are supported in preparing for your future. 

Because, whether you pursue traditional work or alternative employment options for people with multiple disabilities, you can obtain meaningful employment. And you can help propel our country forward. 

And that’s why we celebrate NDEAM—it’s why we look back, it’s why we advocate, and it’s why we support you in planning for meaningful and gainful work.  

With gratitude we revisit. With fervor, we advocate. Intentionally we proceed. 

Additional Resources: