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Indianapolis—Held each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national observance that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.
A recent partnership forged between The Indiana Civil Rights Commission (ICRC) and Bosma Enterprises (BE) embodies this campaign by providing an immersive learning experience for people with a visual impairment.
The collective effort between the state governmental agency and the Indianapolis-based firm marks a crucial step in providing much-needed opportunities for a population that faces an estimated 70% unemployment rate.
“Partnerships like these are important for all organizations to consider, especially during NDEAM” said Jamal L. Smith, Executive Director of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission. “Our society unfortunately places very low expectations for people with a visual impairment. We should all look to find opportunities for a very capable group of Hoosiers.”
The partnership formed by the ICRC and BE provides a unique learning opportunity in the Indiana Civil Rights Commission’s office. Program participants are given training from ICRC staff and the opportunity to gain real-world work experience.
“It’s important to understand that people with a visual impairment are very capable,” added Smith. “Not just as productive citizens, but valued employees.”
To date three people have gone through the program at the ICRC with more planned this year.
NDEAM’s roots date back to 1945 when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “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. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to “National Disability Employment Awareness Month.”
The Indiana Civil Rights Commission enforces the Indiana civil rights laws and provides education and services to the public in an effort to ensure equal opportunity for all Hoosiers and visitors to the State of Indiana. For more information on the Indiana Civil Rights Commission visit: www.in.gov/icrc.