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Disability: Part of the Equity Equation

By: France-Elvie Banda
Wednesday, October 12, 2022
National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) honors the unique contributions of people with disabilities to the American workforce and economy. The Office of Disability Employment Policy celebrates the month annually. This year’s theme is “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation.” The first observance began as a weeklong celebration in October 1945. In 1988, the U.S. Congress officially declared October National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Each year, NDEAM recognizes the invaluable contributions of people with disabilities despite barriers to inclusion. By making accessibility an integral component of diversity, more work can be done to ensure that scientists with disabilities feel a sense of belonging in their institutions, labs, and places of employment.

As activists in the disability community push acceptance of the Social Model, which focuses on eliminating functional barriers experienced by people with disabilities and promoting full social participation, an inclusive term has gained popularity in recent years. Neurodiversity refers to the diversity of all people, but it is often used in the context of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as well as other neurological or developmental conditions such as ADHD or learning disabilities. Those in the neurodiversity movement, dating back to the 1990s, believe that differences held by people with disabilities are not deficits. The real deficit lies in the lack of accommodations from employers and limited social inclusivity. It is important to remember that the disability community is diverse, and there are some who prefer identity-first language, “an autistic person,” and others who prefer person-first language, “a person with autism.”

Visit the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) to learn more about making your workplace an inclusive space for people with disabilities.