October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Every October, the spotlight shines on raising awareness about inclusive employment and the many ways individuals with disabilities can make valuable contributions to the workforce. This year, the theme “My Disability Is One Part of Who I Am” focuses on the fact that disability is only one facet of a person.
Too often, individuals with disabilities become defined by their disability and that becomes the only thing people see. Once a person is seen as their disability, all sorts of limitations are imposed on them and their future can become very narrow. The positive roles of “employee” or “entrepreneur” seem unattainable.
But while an individual’s disability contributes to the person they are, it does not define them. People with disabilities are people whose lives are shaped by many different experiences, just like everyone else. And like people without disabilities, people with disabilities have skills and talents to bring to the workplace.
In her recent blog post, Jennifer Sheehy, the deputy assistant secretary of labor for disability employment, talks about her experiences as a person with a disability and why this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month theme is so significant.