Disability Awareness In The Workplace: What Should You Know?

This year marks not only the 30th anniversary of the ADA(Americans with Disabilities Act), but also the 75th observance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month(NDEAM).

National Disability Awareness Month is celebrated every year in the month of October. The observance originally began in 1945, and it was established by Harry S. Truman under a different name, “National Employ The Physically Handicapped Week”. This observance established decades of proclamation in favor of employing those who have disabilities and making reasonable accommodations for those who need them.

2020 National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Today, the awareness campaign has been mostly managed by the U.S. Department of Labor. The U.S. Department of Labor(DOL) has announced that this year’s theme is going to be “Increasing Access and Opportunity”.

According to Eugene Scalia, the U.S. Secretary of Labor, an important part of the economic rebound will include making sure that workplaces and organizations include people who have disabilities.

A strong and healthy economic rebound and job growth can lead to a mass increase in job opportunities for Americans who have disabilities. People who have disabilities have proven to exhibit an incredible ability to adapt and solve some of the most complex problems. This year has proven how important flexibility and mobility are to those in the workforce.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month will continue to celebrate the creativity people with disabilities bring to the workplaces in America.

Participating In NDEAM

Employers, schools, organizations, etc. of all sizes are encouraged to take part in National Disability Employment Awareness Month. When  people think about disabilities, many of them think about accidents that lead to the disabilities. However, many people will become disabled due to an illness. Some of the main contributors of disabilities include the following:

  • back pain
  • chronic fatigue
  • depression
  • median nerve compression

Individuals who are diagnosed with an unexpected disability are generally at risk of losing their income stream.

Disability and Diversity

Unfortunately, disability discrimination continues to be an extensive problem in the employment context. We do not believe that disability has become fully incorporated into the thought of diversity. We believe that disabilities can be seen as an incredibly positive value in many workplaces.

Businesses and organizations of all sizes should consider the massive pool of talent and potential that are held by individuals who have disabilities. The month of October is an incredible opportunity to remind people of why disabilities should be seen as positive values in the workplace.

When we mention disability awareness in the workplace, we believe that many employers are aware of it in various ways. Disability has become a bigger part of today’s business model. One of the things that many employers struggle with is reasonable accommodations.

Reasonable Accommodation

While many employers are aware of the rules and regulations set by the ADA, there are other employers that are not aware.

Some employers are hesitant to hire individuals with disabilities because they fear the accommodation costs. However, research has shown that making reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities will not be substantial.

According to previous studies and research, over 50 percent of accommodations will not cost anything. The remaining reasonable accommodations that need to be made will cost around $500.  Reasonable accommodation will require employers to do things in a different manner than they would normally do them.

Reasonable accommodation is something many employers wrestle with because it requires them to address the needs that individuals with disabilities have. A reasonable accommodation should be seen as a simple request to make a change that is needed due to one’s medical condition.

It Starts At The Top

Sometimes the issue is not that employers are not aware of how they should comply with the ADA, sometimes the issue is that there is not enough communication or there is no communication at all in regard to the policies. It is important to communicate the message of disability and diversity, and the communication should start at the top.

Even the best businesses and organizations may not be fully committed to any type of awareness or project of any kind until the leaders have shown their commitment. Leadership from the top will make its way to others within the business or organization.

Leaders in a business or organization can learn more about individuals with disabilities who want to be a part of the workforce by meeting with advocacy groups and working closely with those who are a part of the disability community.

Some candidates will meet all the qualifications that an employer is looking for, but myths, misconceptions, and fears are all preventing the talented individuals from being hired.

Disability Discrimination

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission(EEOC) receives over 30 percent of Americans with Disabilities Act charges that are centered around disability discrimination. Disability discrimination in the workplace remains a continuous problem. Individuals with disabilities represent a notable part of the U.S. population, in addition to a vast pool of creative and untapped talent.

Every business and organization need to be aware of disability issues, and not just during the month of October. Employers should want to show awareness throughout the entire year. While showcasing or acknowledging awareness is a good thing, it should be a priority in the workplace. Disability discrimination against individuals who are qualified can result in workplace investigations and court proceedings.

Investigations and proceedings will lead to more costs than it would cost to make reasonable accommodations to the individuals who have disabilities. Over time, these actions can result to a business or organization’s reputation being damaged. Today, more companies need to make the effort to understand individuals with disabilities and their desires to be a part of the workforce.

Villaume & Schiek supports those who have been discriminated in the workforce, and we make it a priority to assist them. If you have an unexpected or expected disability through illness or injury and you believe you have been discriminated against, we can help you protect your legal rights. Contact us online or by phone at (952) 851-9500.


Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individualsituation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.