Webinar: NDEAM 2021

audio version (opens in a new tab)



July and October are two of my favorite months of the year. July is important because it commemorates passage of the

Americans with Disabilities Act.

In October, the U.S. celebrates

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).

On October 20, 2021, I virtually attended the first public showing of

YouTube video: NDEAM 2021.

In this blog post, I will summarize what I learned.


Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) Overview

The primary speaker is currently Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL)

Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).

The NDEAM theme for 2021 is “America’s Recovery Powered by Inclusion”. ODEP was established by Congress twenty years ago. During the presentation, ODEP stated their commitment to providing inclusion and equity to everyone. For some people with disabilities, inclusion can be achieved through customized employment.


Customized Employment

ODEP’s mission is to help everyone obtain employment. Customized employment is a strategy which matches an individual’s talents and skills with employer needs. A video with audio description of visuals was then played featuring a veteran with a disability. It is important to determine what gives a person meaning (what you want to do). The person with disability stated he learned he is capable of doing a job which he always dreamed about. His employer stated the individual is very thorough. Reasonable accommodations were then discussed.


Reasonable Accommodations

Reasonable accommodations mean a change which enables someone with a disability to perform a job. Tele-work can be a reasonable accommodation. Some people with disabilities may need time off to attend doctor appointments. Viewers and listeners were encouraged to access resources at the

Job Accommodation Network.

I have known about this resource for many years and also recommend it. JAN provides free confidential consultation for employees and employers regarding accommodations. They also offer training opportunities. Accommodating people with mental health disabilities was the next topic.


Mental Health Reasonable Accommodations

1 in 5 adults have a mental health condition. This statistic was referenced in a video produced by

The Campaign for Disability Employment.

Inclusion can be achieved by having a welcoming workplace. This involves inclusion by the employer and self-advocacy from people with disabilities. The Secretary of DOL stated it is OK to talk about mental health issues. The ODEP representative then said that mental health accommodations can include a quiet workplace environment or tele-working. The interactive accommodation process was also referenced. As the presentation was ending, the Secretary of DOL and Assistant Secretary of ODEP both stated the importance of inclusion for everyone, including those with a variety of disabilities. I will now reflect on the presentation.


Blake’s Reflections

As an individual with a disability who is currently employed, I echo what the presenters in the video said about the importance of inclusion. In my own experience, making everyone be and feel included promotes a positive workplace culture. This means making everyone feel welcome and ensuring they have tools necessary to succeed professionally. Although workplace accommodations may be necessary for some people with disabilities, we are people first. Focus primarily on what a person with disability can do. Bottom line: inclusion can enable workplace success.


Question for Readers

If you are an employer or an individual with a disability, how do you plan to promote inclusion of people with disabilities? I will return next week with another article.



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