In 1988, the United States Congress declared the month of October National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Meant to raise awareness of the employment needs and contributions to the workforce of workers with all forms of disabilities, the campaign “emphasizes the importance of ensuring that all Americans have access to the services and supports to enable them to work,” .
As we celebrate the 30th annual National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Promoting Awareness and Wellness in Students (PAWs) team sat down with Grace Williamson, director of Career and Alumni Services at Ashford University, to hear her thoughts on the ways that Ashford supports its diverse population of learners.
The theme of this year’s month-long celebration is America’s Workforce: Empowering all. When reflecting on this theme, Williamson highlights the endless benefits that come with a workforce of varying strengths and experiences, noting that accessibility and inclusivity are at the forefront of Ashford’s mission.
“At Ashford, and specific to supporting students with disabilities, we serve a diverse community and we really are empowering all students/individuals into the workforce,” she explains. “While some students may choose an online environment as a method of mitigating disability impact, we are proactively and continuously creating a fully accessible environment from the beginning. This serves all students regardless of ability.”
Knowing that individuals with disabilities continue to face higher rates of unemployment than their counterparts, Williamson acknowledges one of the very real challenges that community members may face when seeking a job: accommodations they may need during the interview or after, and how to go about disclosing a disability. To address this concern, Williamson encourages students with disabilities to familiarize themselves with their strengths and weaknesses in preparation for the interview process.
“This way, they can ask thoughtful questions during the interview to help determine whether or not the opportunity is a good job and career fit for them,” she adds.
Ashford University Career Services and the Office of Student Access and Wellness are available to help students with disabilities strategize on the best way to disclose their disability to employers, given their unique situation. Additional resources also are available to aid students throughout the process.
To learn more about National Disability Employment Awareness Month, how Ashford University is accommodating students with disabilities, and the resources available to help prepare them for career opportunities, watch this month’s video.
Written by Ashford University Staff
U.S. Department of Labor Announces 2018 Theme For National Disability Employment Awareness Month, https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/odep/odep20180523, May 23, 2018