While the month of October is synonymous with post season baseball, candy, and changing your appearance through costumes, to millions of others it is a month dedicated to finding gainful employment; educating ourselves and others about employment issues and barriers faced by people with disabilities; as well as celebrating the many contributions of American workers with disabilities.
The Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP) in Albany County, NY is taking time this month, along with millions of others, to recognize the 70th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). This year’s theme for NDEAM is “My Disability is One Part of Who I Am.” RAMP Albany, a career focused mentoring program that engages youth in various career exploration activities, is celebrating NDEAM by discussing and engaging youth in “soft skills” training during the month of October. Soft skills are the skills, traits, work habits, and attitudes that all workers must have in order to obtain, maintain, and progress in employment. It is important to note that soft skills are critical for success in all occupations and industries.
In addition to the soft skills training, RAMP Albany youth had the opportunity to participate in a short educational film on disability disclosure in the workplace, targeted toward youth and young adults over the summer. The final video has been used to continue discussions with youth on disability and the workplace: that their experiences with disability can offer a competitive edge when it comes to work, when and why to disclose a disability, and that they have the right to be evaluated on their ability, not their disability.
It is important for young people with disabilities to know that there are many others who have similar experiences that have contributed to the America that we know today. It is also important that they know that they are only people who can define their own limitations. They can pursue meaningful careers and take their spots among those who have played an important role in America’s educational and economic success if they set their own standards high. NDEAM provides an opportunity for this topic of discussion, although conversations are encouraged all year long.
RAMP Albany hopes to end the month long celebration engaging the community by requesting individuals with disabilities who have been successful in their line of employment to serve as guest speakers and share with youth in the program that their disability is one part of who they are and very much part of their success. Let this October be the springboard for your community to increase awareness and provide more opportunities for people with disabilities.
To view the Disability Disclosure in the Workplace video referenced in this article, please go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYxV7cIu-tg