National Disability Employment Awareness Month was declared in 1988 by the United States Congress for the month of October to raise awareness of the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. The month is an extension of "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week" originally observed during the first week of October beginning in 1962. Americans observe National Disability Employment Awareness Month by paying tribute to the accomplishments of the men and women with disabilities whose work helps keep the nation's economy strong and by reaffirming their commitment to ensure equal opportunity for all citizens.
In 1945, the government pushed to educate the public about issues relating to disabilities and employment. Congress enacted Public Law 176, which declared the first week of October, every year, as National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week. In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. Congress later expanded the first week of October to the entire month of October and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month in 1988.
In 1973, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits any public institutions that receive federal funds to discriminate on the premise of disability. Only two years later in 1975, Education for All Handicapped Children Act was passed requiring public schools that accept federal funding to provide equal education and access to education for disabled children. Years later in 1990, President Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities ACT (ADA) guaranteeing access to and prohibits discrimination against individuals with physical or mental disabilities. In 2000, President Clinton signed an Executive Order, requesting for the federal government to hire 100,000 people with disabilities over the next five years. The final major event that happened is when Congress created the Office of Disability Employment Policy within the Department of Labor.
Under the United States Department of Labor is an Office of Disability Employment Policy. This office has created the Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) which aims to improve education, training and employment opportunities and outcomes for youth and adults with disabilities who are unemployed, underemployed and/or receiving Social Security disability benefits. Through the DEI, there are 70 Disability Resource Coordinators. Along with State Project Leads, they serve to strengthen the capacity of American Job Centers in hopes of increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
With 62.7% of non-institutionalized persons 16 and older in the workforce, only 19.5% of which have disabilities.