Arkansas Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities

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October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Let’s Get to Work. 

By Jon Taylor

Today is the first day of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Held every October, NDEAM is a time to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the multiple contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. Every year, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) sets a theme for NDEAM. For 2021, the theme is “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion.”

An inclusive workplace means workers with a disability are:

  • Paid the same wages as another worker doing the same job.
  • Part of team, and not assigned to a group of other workers with disabilities.
  • Paid through their employer, not an outside program.

When all three of these minimum conditions are met, it’s called Competitive, Integrated Employment. But a truly inclusive and integrated workplace is more than just the work. It’s the social life in the workplace too. In the United States it’s been estimated that the average employee will spend 90,000 hours, roughly one third of their life, at work. The people we work with are a huge part of our lives (I met my wife at work). An integrated workplace includes workers with disabilities in every part of it.

October’s blogs will be about inclusive and integrated workplaces. Arkansas Rehabilitation Services has kindly agreed to share some of their experiences in helping Arkansas business incorporate workers with disabilities into their companies. I will share a few of my own experiences as well.

For the employers out there: hiring and retaining good people is a challenge right now. There are Arkansans with disabilities who would love to work for you. If you are not sure how to reach them, this month is for you.

And for the job hunters out there, connecting with the right person at the right time can be hard. Employers and hiring managers are always busy, and you may not be sure how to reach them. This month is for you too.

As I said at the start, October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Let’s get to work.


The Council is seeking input from employers on why they do, or don’t, actively practice inclusive and equitable employment of those with developmental disabilities. During NDEAM, GCDD launched a statewide survey for employers of all company sizes. The feedback we receive will help us to craft resources to support employers and begin bridging the disability employment gap in Arkansas.

Take the Employer Survey

About the Arkansas Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities

The Council is a federally funded state agency that promotes integration, inclusion and independence for Arkansans with developmental disabilities. Council members are self-advocates, relatives and/or caregivers of individuals with DD, state agency directors, and representation from nonprofit and private organizations. The Council works to encourage self-advocacy; to remove barriers to information, services and support; to advocate for policy changes; to develop and support coalitions; and to educate community leaders. For more information about the Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities and its mission, browse more pages on this website, or call 501-682-2897. Follow the Council on Facebook and Twitter @gcddar. You can also find Arkansas GCDD on YouTube.