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National Disability Employment Awareness Month

National Disability Employment Awareness Month

For October 2023, the ABA celebrates the 78th observance of NDEAM


The American Bar Association (ABA) is actively participating in National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), an annual awareness campaign that takes place each October and celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities and educates them about the value of a diverse workforce inclusive of their skills and talents.  In recognition of the contributions lawyers and judges with disabilities make to the legal profession and to encourage law firms, judiciaries, and other legal employers to make disability diversity and inclusion a priority, the ABA’s Board of Governors recognized October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month. This year’s theme is "Advancing Access and Equity.”

Throughout the month, lawyers with disabilities and disability rights advocates will share their thoughts on this year’s theme.  The ABA's Commission on Disability Rights (CDR) invites legal employers to promote this year’s theme by joining our over 300 signatories—corporations, law firms, law schools, municipalities, judiciaries, and nonprofit organizations that have pledged to increase disability diversity throughout the legal profession—and signing our Pledge for Change: Disability Diversity in the Workplace.  Signatories are encouraged to share their stories about how signing the Pledge has increased disability awareness and inclusion in their law firm, which CDR will feature on our website.  

Resolution on NDEAM

WHEREAS, the American Bar Association has as one of its four Goals to promote full and equal participation in the Association, our profession, and the justice system by all persons and eliminate bias in the legal profession and the justice system.

WHEREAS, each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national campaign led by the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities.

NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS, RESOLVED, that in recognition of the contributions lawyers and judges with disabilities make to the legal profession and to encourage law firms, judiciaries, and other legal employers to make disability diversity and inclusion a priority, the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association proclaims October the National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).

Tips on How You Can Celebrate NDEAM

A Statement for NDEAM 2023 from ABA President Mary Smith

NDEAM 2023 Event

Building a Neuroinclusive Legal Workplace: The Competitive Advantage of Diversity

Between 15-20% of the US population is neurodiverse. Neurodiversity is getting lots of attention, with more and more employers recognizing the benefits of diversity of thought and tapping into this talent pool. Our esteemed panel of experts—including neurodivergent attorneys—will discuss what neurodivergent means for employers and the workplace, the unique skills and abilities that accompany it, and what businesses should be doing about it. The panelists will address the business case for hiring neurodivergent lawyers, provide best practices for recruiting, hiring, and retaining neurodivergent lawyers, share their initiatives and lessons they have learned along the way, and discuss what a neuroinclusive workplace looks like.

From our Members

Judges Can Lead the Way to Inclusion (Hon. Juliet Britton)

Disability Equity in the American Legal Profession: Challenges and Possibilities (Peter Blanck, Fitore Hyseni, & Nanette Goodman)

Embodying the Spirit of NDEAM: Moving Beyond Compliance? (Marissa Ditkowsky)

Accessibility and Achieving Equity in the Workplace (Stephanie Cawthon)

Joining the Equity Conversation: How Law Firms Can Embolden Attorneys with Disabilities (Lauren Clements)

Making Accommodations: The Legal Profession Should Do a Better Job Supporting Attorneys with Disabilities (Hannah Cramer)

The Minnesota Disability Bar Association: Achieving a Sense of Belonging (Ann Motl)

NDEAM 2023 Infographic

To commemorate October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), the Commission on Disability Rights (CDR) has created this infographic to highlight the disparity between the employment of people with disabilities and those without.

Click here to view the Infographic (Accessible PDF format)
(Statistics via US Department of Labor)

NDEAM 2019 Event

Inclusive Technology: Enabling Accessibility at Work and in Our Digital Lives

Technology is an essential tool in making the workplace and the world accessible for people with many types of disabilities - yet many of us are only aware of these issues in passing. This practical training from two experts explains how accessible technology works, why it is so essential, and how to ensure that nobody is left out when you assemble your programs, websites, workspaces, and content. Click here to see the training.

A Statement for NDEAM 2022 from ABA Past President Deborah Enix-Ross

A Statement for NDEAM 2021 from ABA Past President Reggie Turner

A Statement for NDEAM 2020 from ABA Past President Trish Refo

A Statement for NDEAM 2019 from ABA Past President Judy Perry Martinez


Video: Why Hire People With Disabilities?

Patricia Kinaga

Patricia Kinaga

“Asians and Pacific Islanders (APIs) with disabilities are often invisible due to cultural stigma and language barriers. As Chair of Asians and Pacific Islanders with Disabilities of California, I am honored to play a small part in helping to provide a face and voice for APIs with disabilities. I am honored play a small part in working towards inclusion for all of communities, linked together through learning, respect, and love.”

  Stephanie Ortoleva

Stephanie Ortoleva

“During a recent trip to India to work on issues around sexual and gender-based violence, one afternoon I was doing a training on these issues at a school for students who are blind to teach assistive technology and other skills to high school students who study in mainstream schools. One young blind woman approached me after the presentation to ask for my advice for her future career goals. She did not realize that like her, I too am blind. Then she said: “You mean I too really can be a lawyer?” “Yes, yes, you can be whatever you want to be!”

Additional  Resources

Past Programs

2021: Moving Forward: What the Workplace Looks Like for Disabled Lawyers Post-Pandemic

2018: Building an Inclusive Workplace
Click here to read the ABA's statement for NDEAM 2018.

2017: People with Disabilities: Driving Innovation in the Workplace

2016: How Do I Tell Them? Coming Out About Mental Illness in the Workplace