SourceAmerica Celebrates 70 Years of NDEAM
VIENNA, Va., Oct. 1, 2015 - This year marks the 70th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month NDEAM, the national movement held each October to highlight contributions of American workers with disabilities. NDEAM's roots go back to 1945 when it was created by Congress to raise awareness of employing people with disabilities. SourceAmerica, a national organization that creates job opportunities for people with disabilities, honors NDEAM's history, significance, and improvements in awareness of the cause. "The creation of NDEAM marked the formal recognition of people with disabilities in the workforce and the beginning of a national movement that hasn't stopped," said SourceAmerica President and CEO Steve Soroka. "Remarkably, it wasn't until years later―1990―when the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law and paved the way for full participation of people with disabilities in the workforce. Despite gains in awareness and acceptance, the need for significantly increased competitive employment opportunities still exists."
Today, more than 70 percent of people with disabilities do not have jobs. SourceAmerica's primary role is to connect employment opportunities for people with disabilities within its network of nonprofit agencies for federal and non-federal customers. In turn, SourceAmerica provides these nonprofits with assistance in the areas of business development, contract management, legislative and regulatory assistance, communications and public relations materials, information technology support, engineering and technical assistance, and professional training. SourceAmerica's network of more than 1,200 community-based organizations currently employs more than 115,000 people with disabilities.
"Together with our network of nonprofit agencies, we are proving the employment capabilities of people with disabilities in the business community," said Soroka. "I'd like to see even more opportunities to utilize this highly capable workforce."
NDEAM's name has been changed over the years. When NDEAM was first created, it was called "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. Recognizing that no two disabilities are alike, SourceAmerica advocates on behalf of people with disabilities in a variety of ways. For example, it offers the Pathways to Careers Program, which helps match people with disabilities with available jobs that align with their skill sets, interests, and needs. This program utilizes innovative strategies to understand the individual's ideal work environment for enhanced job performance and improved job placement. SourceAmerica also helps amplify the voice of the disability community by bringing together SourceAmerica staff, nonprofit agencies, workers with disabilities and their families, and supporters during its annual Grassroots Advocacy Conference.
SourceAmerica works in the spirit of NDEAM every day toward its mission. We hope that you join us in celebrating NDEAM, and encourage employers to hire a diverse workforce, including people with disabilities.