Article By: MC2 Danica M. Sirmans
Each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is supported by the Department of Defense. The DOD’s national campaign raises awareness about disability employment issues while celebrating the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.
This year’s theme, “Expect, Employ, Empower,” stresses the importance of having high expectations for all individuals with disabilities, offering work environments open to the talents of all qualified individuals, and encouraging people with disabilities to be empowered.
The history of NDEAM traces back to 1945. Congress enacted a resolution declaring the first week of October each year as, “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word, “physically,” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to “National Disability Employment Awareness Month,” in 1988.
In 1987, the DOD enacted that two percent of the DOD civilian workforce should consist of individuals with targeted disabilities, or a set of disabilities that are given particular attention in employment statistics. The two percent goal remains in place and is an indicator that employees with disabilities have increased confidence in an agency’s inclusiveness.
In 2010, President Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13548, “Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities.” The order committed the Federal government to hiring 100,000 individuals with disabilities within the next five years. The DOD is slated to hire 36,000 of those individuals within the aforementioned time period.
|Equal Employment Opportunity Manager Deborah Baity is pictured in her office in NPS’ main administration building, Herrmann Hall. Baity has worked at NPS for the past 32 years, currently overseeing efforts in diversity training, prevention of discrimination, workforce profiles, disability employment, veterans issues, personnel accommodations and compliance.|
NPS pays tribute to the accomplishments of the men and women with disabilities whose work helps keep the nation’s economy strong and by reaffirming the institution’s commitment to ensure equal opportunity within the workplace.
Equal Employment Opportunity Manager Deborah Baity has worked at NPS for the past 32 years. Her role encompasses issues as they relate to employment, diversity training, discrimination, workforce profiles, disability, veterans, accommodations and their compliance.
“As of June 2014, NPS employed 1,102 civilians, including 93 identifying with disabilities,” said Baity. “Fifty-eight employees identifying with having disabilities are disabled veterans. Thirty-three are veterans that fall into the 30 percent disabled bracket.
“NPS is currently implementing methods and training for rollout in 2015 to increase the number of our employees with targeted disabilities. While NPS is presented [with] unique challenges in regard to hiring at this time, there are ways that we can accommodate and increase the number of our targeted disability employees,” she added.
Training and a DOD guest speaker are slated to visit NPS in 2015 to train hiring managers on ways to recruit and maintain employment in the five protected areas; race, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, and reprisal.
Myths and stereotypes continue to create barriers to employment opportunities for qualified people with disabilities. The barriers faced by people with disabilities begin with the culture and attitude in the workplace. The culture and attitude must be founded in factual information vice misunderstandings about what it is like to live with a disability.
Following NPS’ training of hiring managers and supervisors, general employees and personnel will receive training addressing etiquette and workplace culture.
By modeling positive and inclusive attitudes and behaviors, workplace leaders and employees alike can play an important role in improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities. For more information about disability etiquette and other equal opportunity questions visit the Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity website at: diversity.defense.gov.
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez offered her remarks in a 2014 press conference.
“We all have a role to play in, and benefit to gain from, increasing opportunities for meaningful employment for people with disabilities. This year’s theme encapsulates this in three powerful words. It conveys that advancing disability employment is about much more than just hiring. It’s about creating a continuum of inclusion. And the first step on this continuum is expectation,” said Martinez.
Posted November 4, 2014