Happy Disability Employment Awareness Month

Illustration by Monique Rojas | The Signal

The month of March is annually recognized as Developmental Disability Awareness Month, and Georgia State’s Center for Leadership in Disability encouraged students to spread awareness by using the hashtag #DDawareness2020 on social media.

For the month of October, the nation recognizes Disability Employment Awareness Month.

In 1945, Congress passed a law to annually celebrate the first week of October as Disability Employment Awareness Week. 

Though it was originally called National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week, they renamed it in 1988 to represent all disabilities throughout the entire month: National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). 

NDEAM began on Thursday and, according to the official campaign website, the theme of this year’s awareness month is “increasing access and opportunity.”

Georgia State celebrates through the work of the Inclusive Digital Expression and Literacy program.

IDEAL is a postsecondary program for students with disabilities. It provides students with opportunities to learn media production, acting skills and storytelling skills that will contribute to their career.   

IDEAL students like Nadia Osbey believe that Georgia State is inclusive and accessible each day of the year, regardless of the month’s theme.

“At first, I thought that college life was not for me, but now that I’ve experienced IDEAL and [Georgia State], I know that anybody who has a disability still has the ability to go to college,” Osbey said in an interview with IDEAL. “What made me realize this was the interactions I had with other students at Georgia State who did not have disabilities, and how they treated me and other IDEAL students just like regular students.”

Osbey is studying music production and wants to get a job related to sports or dance. She said that the university makes her feel seen and that it efficiently trains her despite her disability.   

“They saw me for me and not for my disability, so that showed me that even though I’m different, I can still have the same experiences and be treated like any other person,” she said. 

IDEAL student Sayid Webb is working towards a career in graphic design.

“To me, [Georgia State’s] IDEAL program is like a new life as a graphic designer and event planner,” he said.

Webb also wants to start his own business.

Through hosting events, he hopes to demonstrate leadership within the IDEAL program so that he may exercise it in his future workplace. 

“Christmas parties [are] like a winter wonderland,” Webb said. “I hosted [an] end-of-the-year Christmas party and a celebration [for] two students who graduated last year.”

IDEAL gives work experience and provides networking opportunities for students with disabilities. Every October, these students are recognized through Congress’s 1988 law.

Students in the IDEAL program are simultaneously building their resume and long-lasting friendships. 

“One important thing that I learned is [that the] IDEAL Program [is] always helping students, peer mentors and staff because we are family and family sticks together [and] also works together as a team,” Webb said.