As we recognize National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), it’s worth noting that the disability rights movement, and the Easterseals organization, began with the objective of improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
A Little History
In 1918, Congress passed laws creating a rehabilitation program for World War I soldiers with a disability. Providing support for people with disabilities became more widespread, and it was in this environment that the Ohio Society for Crippled Children, which would eventually become Easterseals, was founded one year later. Disabled World War II veterans once again raised public awareness around the movement, and in 1945, Congress enacted Public Law 176, establishing what we know today as National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
The disability rights movement achieved a major victory when President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law in 1990. While this has led to increasing opportunities for people with disabilities, studies show that there’s a lot more that must be done.
Disability Employment Today
According to this report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 60 million people in the U.S. have a disability. These Americans face various employment-related challenges such as being passed over for jobs they’re qualified for, making a career transition due to disability, and/or wage discrimination.
Easterseals is continually increasing awareness and employment opportunities for people with disabilities, especially through our WorkFirst Employment Services program. We also provide specialized employment services for veterans through our Bob Hope Veterans Support Program.
As we look ahead to the future, we must challenge ourselves – what are we doing as individuals to increase awareness and provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities?