National Disability Employment Awareness Month

  • Published
  • By Dave Pelino
  • 97th Comptroller Squadron
As I look back many, many years ago to the time I was growing up in the Philippines, I remember my grandfather in a wheelchair.  He talked with a slur and was paralyzed on his left side.  He was a great man in my eyes. I would sit with him and listen to his many amusing stories of his life. Despite his disabilities, he was able to manage a learning institution which he built. As a result of his labor, thousands have graduated and have moved on to find jobs and support their families. 

He is one of many people with disabilities who worked hard every day to make a difference in the world.

Disabled people have made a difference in the world through the centuries. A Greek mathematician, Pythagoras, had epilepsy, but that didn't hinder him from developing his ideas to measure shapes which we still use today.

Ludwig van Beethoven, a German musical composer, wrote some of his best compositions when he was stricken with deafness.

In 1824, Louis Braille introduced his revolutionary Braille code, which helped open the door to knowledge for the blind.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected four times despite his impairment due to polio; he is regarded as one of the greatest American presidents to have led our country.

In July 2010, on the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, President Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13548, which increased federal employment of individuals with disabilities. This established the federal government as a model employer of individuals with disabilities. This order directs several federal agencies to design model recruitment and hiring strategies to increase their employment of people with disabilities, as well as mandatory training programs for both human resources personnel and hiring managers on the employment of people with disabilities.

According to a White House press release, "The President is committed to nurturing a society that values the contributions of all our citizens and residents, including approximately 50 million people in this country living with disabilities. While people with disabilities are integrated into society as never before, we must do more."

This month is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Let us all take a moment to reflect and honor innovators with disabilities who are breaking down barriers in the workforce and society. They have made important contributions to this world in the past and will continue to do so.