October is Disability Employment Awareness Month

The White House released a statement today proclaiming October to be Disability Employment Awareness Month. As the name suggests, its purpose is to promote hiring of Americans who live with disabilities. The commemorative month started as a commemorative week back in 1945, when President Truman dubbed the first week of October “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.”

Emphasized in the proclamation is the employment of veterans who have sustained injuries while serving, though the umbrella dedication also includes Americans with non-combat related disabilities. The statement, signed by President Obama, encourages employers to hire workers with disabilities and laments the fact that only a fifth of Americans with disabilities participate in the labor force.

“We need their talent, dedication, and creativity, which is why my Administration proudly supports increased employment opportunities for people with disabilities,” the proclamation read.

One of the most common disabilities among war veterans is hearing loss, sustained from being in close proximity to explosions or from repeatedly operating loud weaponry. Whether hearing loss is sustained in battle, from a degenerative illness, or simply from old age, let us remember this October that deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans are employable, productive members of society.

How can you help your deaf and hard-of-hearing colleagues in the workplace? Ask your administration to caption all corporate training videos and video addresses. Seventy-one percent of companies in a recent survey said they use internal video to communicate with their staff in various modes, and 54% of employees now expect their employer to use the medium. However, this leaves millions of deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans without access in a way that a text newsletter never did.

Government shutdown or not, the proclamation remains valid — think of what you can do to encourage the hiring and continued employment of a disabled American.

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