National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Every October, the contributions of American workers with disabilities are highlighted during National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). This year marks not only the 75th observance of NDEAM, but also the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month traces back to 1945 when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in 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. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month. NDEAM is overseen by the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.

The theme of NDEAM in 2020 is “Increasing Access and Opportunity.” Ensuring that America’s workplaces continue to include and accommodate people with disabilities will be an important part of our economic rebound,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia. “Looking ahead, the Department will remain focused on the policies that led to a strong economy and record-low unemployment rates for persons with disabilities prior to the pandemic. A vigorous economic rebound and job growth will, alongside the Americans with Disabilities Act, increase access and opportunity for Americans with disabilities.”

  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that just over 19 percent of Americans with disabilities participate in the labor force. That compares with 66.3 percent of workers in the general population.
  • BLS also reports the jobless rate among workers with disabilities is double that of those without disabilities (7.3 percent versus 3.5 percent in 2019).

Goodwill Fort Worth is proud to employ many individuals with disabilities and other barriers to employment. For more than 25 years Charles “Charlie” Rutherford has brought joy to Goodwill Industries of Fort Worth.

Charlie, son of U.S. Congressman and Texas State Representative and Senator J.T. Rutherford, was born with Intellectual Developmental Disability (IDD) and currently lives in Denton. Charlie has been an active member of the community, taking part in Special Olympics events for many years. He even has a state championship in bowling!

Charlie’s coworkers describe him as someone who is always smiling and performs his daily tasks with enthusiasm. This same passion he has for his work extends to his relationships with his family and coworkers as well. Charlie never forgets a face and is quick to make friends with the people that he meets. In 2019, Charlie was recognized for his 25 years of service at Goodwill during the organization’s annual Board/Staff Luncheon. Individuals like Charlie are what make Goodwill, great!

For more information about NDEAM, visit: www.dol.gov/ndeam.