What Is 31?
31 is a thirty-one day challenge to employers, job seekers & supporters to not only take the pledge, but to take action to hire individuals with disabilities during National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) every October. Davina Douthard Foundation, is leading this cause to inspire equality and to make a difference. Utilizing its sister organization’s program, Polishing The Professional (PTP), an image consulting and career center providing personal branding and professional development to individuals seeking success in the workforce, the project anticipates helping hundreds of individuals to get hired. Established in 1991, PTP has remained a leader in helping people achieve workplace success, it expanded its role in employment for individuals with disabilities in 1998. This campaign is in full support of the following causes:
NDEAM’s theme for 2015. “My Disability is One Part of Who I Am” is at the very heart of our motto “It About Your Ability, not Disability and is what we have honored and supported for many years. As a supporter, it is our responsibility to have high expectations and encourage individuals with disabilities to realize their dreams, as we do for ourselves. It is when we set limitations on others, that we fail. Our responsibility to each other is to inspire and to lend a helping hand when we can.
Held each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. The theme for 2015 is “My Disability Is One Part Of Who I Am.”
“This year’s theme encapsulates the important message that people with disabilities are just that — people,” said Jennifer Sheehy, acting assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy. “And like all people, we are the sum of many parts, including our work experiences. Disability is an important perspective we bring to the table, but, of course, it’s not the only one.”
NDEAM’s roots go back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “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.” Upon its establishment in 2001, ODEP assumed responsibility for NDEAM and has worked to expand its reach and scope ever since.
Employment First Initiative
Employment First is a concept to facilitate the full inclusion of people with the most significant disabilities in the workplace and community. Under the Employment First approach, community-based, integrated employment is the first option for employment services for youth and adults with significant disabilities.
To advance Employment First, ODEP created the Employment First State Leadership Mentor Program. This program helps states align policies, regulations and funding priorities to encourage integrated employment as the primary outcome for individuals with significant disabilities. Through the initiative, ODEP is providing support and informational resources for selected states that desire systems change reflecting the Employment First approach but have struggled to fully implement it as the primary service delivery system for people with disabilities.
Integrated employment refers to jobs held by people with disabilities in typical workplace settings where the majority of persons employed are not persons with disabilities, they earn at least minimum wage and they are paid directly by the employer.
Bringing Awareness To The Cause
Unemployment is high for most Americans, However, for individuals with disabilities who want to work and can work make up the majority of individuals who are both under-employed and unemployed. In 2013, 17.6 percent of persons with a disability were employed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means 82% of individuals with a disability are unemployed, compared to 36% non-disabled. In contrast, the employment-population ratio for those without a disability was 64.0 percent, a 47% difference.
During the 31 days of October, employers will be encouraged to not only take the pledge but to take action and hire qualified individuals with disabilities for their open positions and posting the number of hires on the 31 Days website. We are not encouraging employers to discriminate against non-disabled individuals by over-looking their ability to contribute, but look at individuals with a disability not based on what they can’t do, but what they can do, and if they can perform the essential functions of the job, then hire them.
October 31, 2015 throughout the day, PTP will host a national “Success Party” online asking employers who’ve taken the pledge and hired employees with a disability and employees with disabilities who have been hired during NDEAM to celebrate by posting approved pictures of new hires. To join the party, employers, employees, and supporter should simply snap a photo or record a quick video of what they have done and continue to do in this mission to equality during NDEAM. Then post your photo or video on our www.31days.org website and social media pages.
Remember to get approval and release forms to post individuals private disability status. Sample release forms are available on our website.