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 the future.
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, including your future-adult child who is blind or visually impaired. Let’s propel our sons and daughters forward.
Stop and Remember
Every NDEAM we pause and reflect on how far our country has come with workplace accessibility for people with disabilities, including blindness and visual impairment.
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…
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 success stories of employed individuals who happen to be blind or visually impaired
- make a difference in your child’s school and extracurricular communities, advocating for your child’s rights and taking opportunities to share about the capabilities of people who are blind or visually impaired
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
Every NDEAM we refocus on preparing our children for their future gainful employment.
Young people who are blind or visually impaired can be best prepared for a job or career with incremental skill development in the expanded core curriculum (ECC) and with a variety of work-related experiences. To help you as you support your son or daughter, read Practical, Research-Based Tips for Preparing Your Teen who is Blind or Visually Impaired for Gainful Employment.
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 FamilyConnect articles to parents (or the youth themselves), in an effort to address all areas of the ECC, preparing the young person for a satisfying adult 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.
If you’re a parent, the app provides information, activities, and links to resources to inform you about skills and experiences that would be helpful for your child as he or she grows. The focus is on building independence overtime to prepare your son or daughter 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.
Youth with blindness or low vision who are aged 16 to 24 can also use the app and will receive information about the same topics, written specifically for a younger audience.”
With resources such as FamilyConnect, the 4to24 app, Perkins’ Compass Program, and your child’s transition team, you are supported in preparing your child for their future.
Because, whether your child pursues traditional work or alternative employment options for people with multiple disabilities, your child can obtain meaningful employment.
And that’s why we celebrate NDEAM—it’s why we look back, it’s why we advocate, and it’s why we support your child in gearing up for their future in the workforce.
With gratitude we revisit. With fervor, we advocate. With intentionally we proceed.
- National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM): From Passive to Proactive!
- National Disability Employment Awareness Month and Preparing Your Son or Daughter for Work
- National Disability Employment Awareness Month and Why It Matters for Our Children
- Employment Statistics for People who are Blind or Visually Impaired