Arkansas Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities

inclusion. integration. independence.

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Collage of arrows in various colors pointing forward, with images of disabled people at work. The text reads “Advancing Access & Equity, National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Celebrating 50 years of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.” Also #NDEAM, #RehabAct50 and

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is an annual, month-long event which celebrates the important role people with disabilities play in a diverse and inclusive American workforce and recognizes the contributions of workers with disabilities. NDEAM also provides a time to showcase employers with supportive, inclusive employment policies and practices.

At the national level, the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy’s campaign theme for 2023 is “Advancing Access and Equity.” You can visit ODEP’s NDEAM website here to learn more.

Join us throughout October as we advocate for the competitive, integrated employment of people with disabilities.

Use the hashtag #NDEAM on social media.

Access to Employment for People with Disabilities

Access to employment allows individuals with disabilities to become economically independent. It enables them to earn a living, support themselves and their families, and contribute to the overall economy.

People with disabilities face many barriers that decrease access to competitive, integrated employment. These barriers can arise during the job search and application process as well as when an employee is on the job. Examples can include online-only applications, applications that ask individuals to disclose their disabilities (a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act), employer stereotypes or misinformation, workplace culture that is not inclusive, lack of physical accessibility, and lack of accessible public or private transportation, to list a few. Advocates can work together to reduce and remove these types of barriers to employment.

Equitable Employment in Arkansas

What is equity in the workplace? Workplace equity is the concept of providing fair opportunities for all your employees based on their individual needs. Equity levels the playing field. The inclusion of persons with disabilities in the workplace is an opportunity to create a more equitable and prosperous society.

What can an employer do? The Council challenges employers across the state of Arkansas to review their hiring practices and workplace culture. Ask people with lived experience – disabled workers – for input, if you find areas that need improvement, create your own equity action plan (a map or strategy to address the barriers and discrimination that disabled workers face in your organization). You don’t have to do it alone; the Council and other organizations are ready to support your process. We can connect you with experts so that you can learn more about available resources to prepare your organization to practice more inclusive and equitable employment. Implementing equitable policies at your organization has the potential to change the lives of your employees, both with and without disabilities, and affect positive change in the wider world.

NDEAM Events in Arkansas-October 2023

Get a copy of our NDEAM 2023 flyer here.

October 5th

NDEAM Arkansas 2023 Kickoff Event at the Arkansas State Capitol

The Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD) will be co-hosting this event with Arkansas Rehabilitation Services. We will be joined by other partner organizations and individuals with the common goal of advancing and increasing disability employment in Arkansas. The Governor’s proclamation will be read, and attendees will have opportunity to join discussions and learn more.

Please join us at the Capitol! Get a copy of our Media Advisory here.

Date/Time:     Thursday, October 5, 2023 / 10 AM-Noon

Location:         Arkansas State Capitol, 500 Woodlane St, Little Rock, AR 72201, Second Floor Rotunda


October 18th

Working Together

A Virtual Discussion

A team of advocates and attorneys from Disability Rights Arkansas will host a discussion on diversity in the workplace as well as how to work with other agencies to achieve a vocational goal. Join us for this event in celebration of 2023 National Disability Employment Awareness month.

Visit this page to sign up and learn more.

Date/Time:     Wednesday, October 18, 2023 / 10 AM-11:30 AM

Location:         Zoom


October 24th

Arkansas Business Inclusion Summit 2023 in Northwest Arkansas

Top Floor to the Front Door

GCDD will be hosting this event with our partners, Arkansas Rehabilitation Services (ARS), Disability:IN Arkansas (Disability: IN of Arkansas) and Arkansas Chapter of APSE (Association of People Supporting Employment First Arkansas). This year’s theme, Top Floor to the Front Door, looks to address the common disconnect many companies face when executing Disability Accessibility and Inclusion policies. Initiatives designed to bring employees with disabilities into the workforce can break down when supervisors and teammates start working together for the first time.

Come learn from the best and brightest in disability inclusion with practical educational sessions, enhanced networking and high-profile Arkansas speakers who specialize in disability-related fields.

To sign up for more information visit

Date/Time:     Tuesday, October 24, 2023 / 9 AM – 3 PM

Location:         Graduate Hotel, 70 N East Avenue, Fayetteville, AR 72701

More About Disability Employment

What does competitive, integrated employment mean?

Competitive, integrated employment means a full-time or part-time job (with or without supports) in the competitive labor force, in a physically/functionally/socially integrated setting, paying at least minimum wage but not less than the customary wage for the same or similar work performed by workers without a disability, and offering a level of employer-paid benefits that are the same or similar as offered to workers without a disability. Visit our resource page for more information.

What is Employment First Policy?

Employment First means that employment in the general workforce should be the first and preferred option for individuals with disabilities receiving assistance from publicly funded systems. Simply put, Employment First means real jobs for real wages.

Statistics clearly show that if you have a disability, you are much more likely to be poor. Working age adults with disabilities are living below the poverty line at twice the rate of the general population (US Census). It has been continuously shown that with assistance, accommodations, and encouragement, many more people with disabilities can work successfully in the community.

Focusing our public resources on Employment First, providing the assistance necessary for disabled workers to find and succeed in employment, is a road out of poverty, dependence, and isolation, for individuals with disabilities. It may also eventually reduce the number of Arkansans with disabilities who rely on certain publicly funded programs. The next step in this process for Arkansas is to pass Employment First legislation which will make this the official policy of the State. Check out our Disability Policy Platform here.