Blog Post

DBP Members Celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month

By Jennifer London
October 9, 2018

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, otherwise known as NDEAM. The 2018 National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) theme is “America’s Workforce: Empowering All.” NDEAM celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates about the value of a workforce inclusive of their skills and talents.

We asked Diversity Best Practices Member organizations what they are doing to acknowledge NDEAM this year. Here is what they shared.


October 1: “Disability Etiquette in the Workplace” with LifeWorks – Building the skills needed to foster a culture with the awareness, collaborative mindset, and disability etiquette to improve inclusivity and diversity.

October 22: “Join the We Are Able Movement” with Griffen Saul – How to become more socially conscious employees that lead in promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities across corporate settings.

Throughout the month: Allstate intranet engagement — Regular weekly posts by the Inclusive Diversity team, the Abilities Beyond Limited Expectations (ABLE) Employee Resource Group, and others to drive engagement and bring awareness to NDEAM.

American Airlines

American Airlines Employee Business Resource Group, Abilities, will host a Multiple Sensory Experience at five American Airlines locations on Thursday, October 25th. The experience is designed to bring awareness to their team members of some of the unseen disabilities. They will have multiple stations set up where participants will be asked to fulfill simple tasks. The tasks are considered simple until they alter one of their senses. Stations will simulate Hearing Loss, Low Vision/Dyslexia, Arthritis, Blindness, Neurosensitivity, Loss of Leg (maneuver via wheelchair) and Anxiety/Depression.

Boston Scientific

Ireland – Cork

Cork Rebel One Mile Run

This is a one-mile run in partnership with Down Syndrome Cork, Cork Institute of Technology and Cork Sports Partnership. Boston Scientific is thrilled to be the sponsor of this event and will promote on-site during October to encourage as much participation as possible during this fun event.

UCC Disability Support Service Mentoring Program

The University College Cork Disability Support Service Mentoring Program will commence in October 2018. Theyt have 15 Boston Scientific Mentors who will be matched with DSS students in UCC. The aim of the program is to:

  • Help students gain an insight into industry and help with the transition into the workplace.
  • Provide CV and interview techniques for the mentees and discuss issues such as Consent to Disclosure.
  • Provide presentation skills tips to the mentees and prepare them for the final session of presenting to the mentor and director/manager group
  • Ensure each mentee receives job shadowing experience and to confidentially discuss any burning issues with their industry mentor.
  • To aid their mentoring program, full mentoring training will be provided to all mentors on-site.

Ireland – Clonmel

Clonmel Wellness Programme

As part of the Wellness program the LEAD team are introducing a 4-week beginner’s wellness program with Richie Kennedy and Niamh O Connor. The Wellness Programme is designed to tackle certain elements of Mental Health Disabilities by means of providing support in the following pillars;

  • Preventive Health
  • Physical health
  • Workplace Health
  • Family Health
  • Nutritional Health
  • Emotional Health

Over the 4-week duration there will also be a weekly one-hour Beginner Exercise workshop. The trainer for this course will be Niamh O Connor. Niamh is a service user from thieir local disabilities Partner Rehab Care. Niamh is qualified in recreational exercise and fitness. They will be employing Niamh to complete this element of the Wellness programme.

National Make Way Day

On the 26th of September Lead Clonmel marked “Make Way Day” by having 10 service users from Rehab Care on-site. This included an overview of the site and what they do. They then took the group on a detailed site tour to review accessibility on the site. The service users from Rehab Care had “Make Way Stickers” and placed this on different obstructions that they faced around their Clonmel site. The day then finished with their on-site trainers completing their Gowning procedure. This was completed to review what elements of their gowning procedure might cause problems for some people with disabilities.

Computer Training

On the 26th of September Lead Clonmel marked “Make Way Day” by having 10 service users from Rehab Care on-site. This included an overview of the site and what they do. they then took the group on a detailed site tour to review accessibility on the site. The service users from Rehab Care had “Make Way Stickers” and placed this on different obstructions that they faced around Clonmel site. Their day then finished with on-site trainers completing the Gowning procedure. This was completed to review what elements of the gowning procedure might cause problems for some people with disabilities.

Ireland – Galway


They launched the LEAD group at the end of September so for October they plan to spread awareness of the group, thereby getting the dialogue started on disabilities awareness, and how they can all be allies for disabilities.

  • World Mental Health Day
  • They will hold an awareness event for World Mental Health Day on the 10th of October
  • Fundraising & Volunteering
  • They will continue their fundraising and volunteering efforts for Enable Ireland Galway, their charity partner for 2018-2019

Guest Speaker

They are planning to bring in a guest speaker (Gerard Mulvihill, a former service user at Enable Ireland Galway and author of ‘Play the Cards You’re Dealt’) but waiting for confirmation on his availability. I will confirm once I have an exact date

MA – Marlborough

Scavenger Hunt

Engage in experiencing the Marlborough Campus is a wheelchair, walker or crutches to gain empathy for those who do this as well as help us identify where they need to provide input to facilities to help address

“Opening Eyes” Title not final yet

In collaboration with the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, they will provide four to five “booths” to explore and understand how a visually impaired person may experience this specific work situation. Booths will be focused on technology enablement for sight impairment as well as other pertinent work environment topics.

They also expect to have a brief survey at end to help make the connection on how one might use this new information in their role here at BSC to support co-workers who may have a visual impairment.

MA – Quincy

Lunch and Learn: Disability Etiquette & Sensitivity Training

Hosting three Etiquette & Sensitivity Training Sessions with the focus to engage and educate the site’s personnel.


Resources for Mental Health Awareness and Recovery

In-house event for employee to showcase internal and external resources that they may access that are related to mental health and mental health recovery.


NAMI Minnesota (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and adults with mental illnesses and their families. National Alliance on Mental Illness has affiliates in most states, and their annual walks are major fundraisers.

Step Up for Downs Walk

The Step Up for Downs Walk raises funds for the Down Syndrome Association of MN

Special Olympics Unified Event

Special Olympics Unified programs bring people with and without intellectual disabilities together for competition and other inclusive activities. LEAD offers this opportunity as a great place to learn about the truly inclusive spirit.

Special Olympics Polar Plunge Kick-off events

The Polar Plunge is MN LEAD ERG’s signature event. They do this to support a great organization that empowers people unique abilities, and to give BSC employees an offering that allows them to share what they have been given, while raising awareness about intellectual disabilities.

Puerto Rico – Dorad

Hall of Fame of People with Disabilities

Banners will be displayed throughout their facility of people with disabilities that have excelled in a particular area defying the odds

Celebrating Diversity

“Music of the 80’s will be played by a disk jockey with muscular dystrophy who also has albinism. They will also have a photo booth. This activity will also be used to recruit new members


  • A company-wide D&I leadership message will go out to all employees. October’s message is all about different abilities as well as highlighting the Disability Program and metrics on the employees hired.
  • They are working with a consortium of businesses they partner with to release a combined press release identifying their work in regards to disability hiring, including autism, and the importance of being involved in this arena.
  • Disability continues to be a stand alone part of their Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Training and two classes will occur in October.
  • They have various employees attending an event in early October for Autism Speaks to support the cause and their employees on the autism spectrum. Last year they were honored by them for their work in this area.


FINRA is honoring and celebrating Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) in a big way!

The FINRA Disability and Wellness Network (DAWN) employee resource group is proud to offer its first Disability & Wellness Symposium on October 11. The event is championed by the group’s executive sponsor, Anand Ramtahal, Senior Vice President, Risk Oversight & Operational Regulation, who will kick-off the event from the organization’s Rockville, Maryland location!

The event will include an exciting and educational program and agenda, featuring the following highlights:

  • An overview of disability and wellness benefits offered at FINRA;
  • A “Share Your Story” platform, featuring internal employees;
  • A Fire Side Chat Honoring National Disability Employment Awareness Month, featuring FINRA leaders and employees; and
  • A special “Wellness, Fitness and Nutrition” panel discussion!

This exciting program will be streamed across all locations and Rockville, MD employees were extending an in-person invitation. Employees registered in advance were entered into a raffle to win a special prize during NDEAM!

Freddie Mac

October is the Abilities ERG platform month. During the month they will invite Barbara Frankel, Executive Editor of the Working Mother Research Institute to present a research study Freddie Mac participated in: “Uncovering Hidden Potential Non-Apparent Disabilities in the Workplace”. Employees who manage or have non-apparent disabilities will participate in a panel session following the presentation.

October is also a Community Serve month for Freddie Mac. Abilities will be partnering with Easter Seals DC MD VA for employees to learn about the services the offer and to participate in a serve event to benefit the local chapter.

Abilities will also be hosting a “Mentee Day” for the participating mentees and mentors in the Disability:IN Mentor Exchange Program. The mentees will have an opportunity to build on their skills with activities planned in Freddie Mac’s Career Lab as well as shadow with Executives from their respective areas of work interest.

Freddie Mac will close out the month with the Art Lifting Exhibit featuring the work of Kenneth Williams, an artist with mental illness. This will continue their initiative to put diverse works of art on the walls of all their Freddie Mac buildings.

General Mills

Efforts include:

  • Banner and posters in main office areas
  • Posting disability awareness facts once a week using Yammer (corporate social media site)
  • Their Courageous Conversations event in mid-October is “Disability Awareness and Allyship” with guest speaker Deb Dagit
  • They are partnering with the Parenting Club to have a “lunch and learn”-style panel featuring parents of disabled children.


At Intel, they believe diversity and inclusion are the foundations of innovation. National Disability Employment Awareness month is one of many opportunities to celebrate these principles, and to recognize their individuals with diverse abilities. Throughout October Intel will focus on telling the stories of individuals of all abilities, and highlighting their amazing contributions to the company.

Below is a list of some of the events and stories that Intel will feature during National Disability Employment Awareness Month:

  • A video featuring Pete Denman, an Intel employee, discussing the opportunities he has been given, the support he has received, and his lifetime highlight of working with Steven Hawking.
  • Local Health and Disability Fairs in partnership with external vendors to share both internal and external resources with employees.
  • A panel on accessibility featuring speakers with diverse abilities discussing tips and tricks they personally have used in adapting to their environment.
  • A blog featuring a global roundtable discussion with Intel employees from across the globe discussing their experiences and the support they have received.
  • An interview with Lama Nachman regarding Intel’s accessibility work and with Steven Hawking
  • A feature for World Mental Health Day from an individual who has personally overcome several mental health related challenges


We have sent NDEAM posters to be displayed in all L’Oréal USA locations during the month of October. Additionally, our DiversABILITY Think Tank will be hosting several events at our Hudson Yards, NY, Berkeley Heights, NJ and Clark, NJ offices. We will hosting Lunch & Learn sessions focused on disability and sharing personal stories and information about various conditions defined as disabilities; hosting a Breakfast meeting with Best Buddies in Clark, NJ where they will talk about their organization, share information related to jobs, citizenship and volunteer opportunities. We are also sharing via our internal communications channels disability facts to raise awareness and dispel stigmas as well as personal stories on the benefits of disclosure.


In celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), the Merck Global Disability and Inclusion Strategy Council, in partnership with the Merck capABILITY Network EBRG (Employee Business Resource Group), will have plenty of opportunities to expand their knowledge and mindsets in the area of disability inclusivity.
The month kicked off by having company representatives join a panel of D&I thought leaders at the No Barriers NYC Leadership in Business Workshop to discuss building workplace cultures that are fully inclusive. Throughout the month, colleagues will have the opportunity to attend events and activities. On October 10th World Mental Health Day, Merck will host a global webcast focused on supporting emotional wellbeing and reducing the stigma of mental illness, presented by Christine Moutier, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is the first in a series of six mental health topics that will be covered. A Mental Health First Aid Workshop will be offered to help employees assist someone experiencing a mental health crisis. In this training session focused on depression, they will learn what it is, how it is treated and how they can help someone in need.

The Merck capABILITY Network is proud to be hosting Disability Mentoring Day (DMD) events across various locations for students and recent graduates. Mentees will have the opportunity to participate in career workshops, mentoring and learn more about opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry. A Lunch & Learn Event for employees welcomes Jane Fernandes of Guilford University, first deaf educator to lead a college. A trip to Durham Technical Community College (DTCC) with local high school students with disabilities provides employees with the opportunity to give back to the local community.

Throughout the month, the company will leverage various social media channel to engage with our followers to join us in a #MerckChat on Monday, October 15th, @ 8PM EST (Twitter Handle: @MerckIMInspired) with Disability: IN’s – Disability Equality Index Program Manager, Becky Curran. The twitter chat will be an hour long conversation around how ‘Disability Culture Fosters Innovation’.

Northern Trust

Gaining Clarity: DBRC Welcomes the Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Learn how the perception of blindness and visual impairment is changing, and how Hadley is empowering people to thrive – at home, at work and in their communities.

This presentation will provide resources to help you build inclusive interactions to deliver an exceptional client experience, and support their partners and family members. You will gain an understanding of the importance of accommodations, accessibility and technology in the virtual and physical environment.


In addition to communications that promote each cultural heritage month throughout the year, Novartis celebrates National Disability Education and Awareness Month (NDEAM) with an especially meaningful event: Disability Mentoring Day (DMD). The 2018 theme is “I can….I will!”.

This year Novartis will be hosting its 11th annual Disability Mentoring Day program for over 100 high school students with disabilities, from 15 area high schools. In addition to leader participation and presentations, more than 100 Novartis associates volunteer to facilitate this exciting, busy event.

The day starts with a college and career fair where students are encouraged to let curiosity lead them, to learn about opportunities to successfully transition from high school to the workforce. The highlight of the day is an inspirational talk by Scott Chesney, a world-renowned motivational speaker. Since awakening to paralysis from a sudden spinal stroke at the age of 15 Scott has amassed a resume of transformational experiences, powerful insights, and inspiring stories that he will share.

After guests enjoy lunch, a short demonstration on Mindfulness will tie in to the keynote speaker’s message about the importance of focus and will teach students how to practice it anytime, anywhere.

Finally, the day will wrap up with a talk on how the act of writing down one’s dreams and goals will ignite the subconscious mind, opening a powerhouse of possibilities. Each student will receive a can and stack of “I can…I will” cards on which to write down their dreams and collect in their “I can” can.

Novartis’ DMD is an exciting, inspirational and rewarding day for all involved!


In recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), Sodexo, in partnership with the Sodexo Organization for Disabilities Resources (SOAR) EBRG (Employee Business Resource Group), will offer employees multiple opportunities to celebrate.

As in previous years, SOAR will host its national meeting during the month, as way to engage its members, increase awareness and highlight the many contributions of individuals with disabilities in the workplace. This year, SOAR will be leading its national meeting out of the Buffalo, NY office and the meeting will also be available via a Skype Broadcast. The Keynote speaker for the event will be Felicia Nurmsen, Managing Director of Employer Services of the National Organization on Disability (NOD). Additionally, there will be a panel discussion on developing talent, led by Barry Telford, Sodexo CEO, Universities North America, West.

Sodexo will also leverage their internal and external communication channels to promote activities, messaging, webinars and other related materials, including a toolkit developed exclusively for the 2018 NDEAM. They will also leverage their newsletter and social media outlets to raise awareness and engage with their broad audience of followers.

Sodexo continues to partner with different organizations to help advance people with disabilities. For example, in partnership with Riverside Community Care in Massachusetts, Sodexo has hired over 20 individuals with disabilities since the last year, five through its partnership with The Center in Houston, TX, and 13 from the Bobby Dodd Institute in Atlanta and SpARC in Philadelphia.

Southern California Edison

“With Edison’s disability employee resource group ABLE leading the effort, National Disability Employment and Awareness Month will kick off on Oct. 17 with Jazz Hands for Autism, a nonprofit group that provides avenues where musically inclined individuals with autism express and explore their talents.

The keynote speakers, mother and daughter Nadine and Gretchen Vogel, will share their personal survive-to-thrive stories — Nadine as a mother of two daughters with special needs and Gretchen as someone who has transitioned from a failure-to-thrive baby, to a significantly disabled child, to a special needs teenager, to a college graduate to a highly skilled employee.

Employees are expected to leave asking why more people with disabilities are not employed.

To reach as many employees and leaders as possible, the event will be celebrated at Edison’s corporate headquarters in Rosemead, Calif., and it will live-streamed to conference rooms in four other field locations. A Skype option will also be available for employees to join via their desktop or mobile device.

SCE is proud to be named as a Leading Disability Employer by National Organization on Disability (NOD) and recognized as one the 2018 Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion by the Disability Equality Index.”


Unum is an organization focused on helping people with disabilities by providing benefits that help them protect their families, finances and futures while also enabling them to return to work as soon as they are able. The mission of Unum’s Ability Employee Resource Group is to provide support to Unum employees with disabilities and to use the perspective of having a disability to better serve their claimant customers.

The Ability ERG will be recognizing NDEAM with various educational opportunities for employees:

  • A webcast panel discussion with four current Unum employees sharing the challenges and rewards of living and working with a disability
  • A series of experiential learning stations which briefly simulate certain disabilities (from anxiety to loss of depth perception) and demonstrate possible work accommodations for those conditions. The event presents hypothetical disability claimant scenarios and puts participants in the shoes of someone with those disabilities.
  • A personal testimonial from a blind employee for October 15th’s White Cane Safety Day, discussing some of the challenges faced when workplaces undergo layout redesigns
  • An expanded disability self-identification campaign that emphasizes the value of an experience with disability (even a temporary one), in terms of the perspective that experience provides in serving their disability leave claimant customers and helping Unum become an even more supportive employer.
  • The Ability ERG members in the UK are also holding activities focused on disability awareness this month through interactive disability awareness workshops in partnership with two local charity partners, Orpheus and Enham Trust:
  • The team from Orpheus will be running two interactive disability awareness workshops. There will also be an opportunity to experience a thought-provoking performance from some of their former students, as well as the chance to learn more about the charity’s work and how you can get involved with supporting them.
  • Enham Trust will present two awareness workshops, which will include a Q&A on disability matters and an opportunity to hear from one of the charity’s younger users about how they have supported them with developing employability skills.


Verizon, for the third year in a row, has earned a 100% Disability Equality Index (DEI) rating and is recognized as one of the 2018 Best Places to Work for People with Disabilities. They are excited to celebrate National Disability Education and Awareness Month. Below are a few examples.

Their employee resource group, Disabilities Issues Awareness Leaders (DIAL), will be showcased. Open to all employees, DIAL provides guidance on disability issues to Verizon, Their employees and their customers.

Verizon will hold an Accessibility Expo at their headquarters in Basking Ridge NJ. At this expo, they will share new/upcoming technology they are utilizing to support customers with disabilities. In addition, they will follow-up with an article for all employees to provide them more details and education on the technology showcased at the Expo.

In terms of general employee education, they will be highlighting one of their diversity partners, Employee Horizons, a non-profit whose mission is to serve people with disabilities to help them achieve their employment goals. With this partnership, they’re creating jobs at Employment Horizons for workers to test and refurbish used Fios premise equipment for reuse in their network. This work presents a substantial savings to the business while reducing environmental impact. It’s a trifecta of a deal: it’s good business meeting the environment and meeting the community!

About the Author

Jennifer London
Director, Events