Twenty percent of students at community colleges identify as having a disability. A look at the national picture shows that, in 2017, only 18.7 percent of people with a disability were employed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), which aims to raise awareness of job seekers with disabilities and show how they can be productive members of the workforce.
NDEAM is led by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), and there are plenty of suggestions for how educators can observe the month. Bringing in speakers from local disability service organizations and people with disabilities in various professions willing to talk about their jobs and experiences is one idea. Engaging student leaders and student-led groups can help spread awareness, too.
NDEAM also is a good time for providing training for faculty and staff so they have knowledge, skills and abilities to effectively serve people with disabilities.
Palm Beach State College in Florida is hosting events in conjunction with NDEAM, including a dinner, where attendees will learn about the Americans with Disabilities Act and workplace accommodations for people with disabilities.
There also will be a workshop and Dress for Success Competition. The workshop will provide students with information about how and when to disclose a disability to an employer and the appropriate clothes to wear during an interview process.
“The events provide the PBSC campus and local community with an opportunity to collectively and individually increase our knowledge and understanding of the practical and social aspects of disabilities, challenge our assumptions, and educate others and ourselves on how to interact with people with disabilities in the workplace,” said Nikki Champagnie, student development director said in a press release.
How is your college working to help people with disabilities gain the skills they need for employment? Sound off at LinkedIn.