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3 Simple Ways to Mark National Disability Employment Awareness Month

This year marks the 70th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, an event that has close ties to the Marine Corps. After all, it was the military that first brought the subject into the national spotlight. When wounded service members returned from World War II and re-entered the workforce it inspired a conversation about the contributions of people with disabilities.

Currently, there are more than 50 million Americans with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act is in place to provide these Americans with equal opportunities. However, despite the Act being in its twenty-fifth year, there is a still an employment disparity in the United States. In 2014 only 17.1 percent of people with disabilities were working, compared to 64.6 percent of the rest of the population.

National Disability Employment Awareness month aims to correct this imbalance by emphasizing that when it comes to work, it’s what people can do that matters. This year’s theme is "My Disability Is One Part of Who I Am."

Although National Disability Employment Awareness month takes place in October there are stlil things you can do to ensure your workplace offers equal opportunities for Americans of all abilities throughout the year round. Here are some easy ways to get started:

Review company policies
Make sure your company’s employment policies show a commitment to an inclusive workplace culture.

Make time for training
Make sure supervisors and employees receive adequate training in relevant policies, including the process for providing reasonable accommodations. If you have staff that works with the public, ensure they have the knowledge, skills and abilities to effectively serve customers with disabilities. 

Watch the public service announcement 
Watch "Who I Am" which features nine people with disabilities sharing the many ways they describe themselves, including their occupations. Their disabilities, as the National Disability Employment Awareness Month theme emphasizes, do not define them but are only one part of who they are. 

Do you have a family member with a disability? The Exceptional Family Member Program ensures your family member receives access to necessary medical care, provides information and referral services, and makes sure you have a smooth transition when moving between duty stations. To learn more about the Exceptional Family Member Program, click here.

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