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National Disability Employment Awareness Month

By Victoria Elmwood on Thu, 10/15/2020 - 16:13

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It sounds like a weirdly specific name for a nationally-recognized month of observance. But there’s an interesting history behind it. As World War II veterans returned to civilian life, the U.S. government recognized that many of them faced the challenge of reintegrating back into roles as primary earners while coping with disabilities caused by combat wounds. In 1945 Congress declared the first week in October as National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.

In subsequent years, recognition was given to challenges associated with nonphysical disabilities such as Down Syndrome or PTSD. As a result, the week’s name was changed to National Employ the Handicapped Week. At the end of the 1980s, the duration of observation grew from a week to a month, and the name was changed to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Finally, in 1990, the Americans With Disabilities Act was signed into law by George H. W. Bush. Prohibiting discrimination by employers and requiring public services accommodations, this landmark piece of legislation extended protections of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to cover people with disabilities. Take a look at Monroe Library's ebooks on issues surrounding accessibility.


  • Did you know? Websites can be made more accessible if alt tags are applied to images in the site’s coding. This ensures that screen readers can interpret them more appropriately.
  • Did you know? Certain fonts are easier to read for people with dyslexia, the most common learning disability. Open Dyslexic is the font used in the middle portion of the graphic above.