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September 29, 2023

Statement of ABA President Mary Smith RE: National Disability Employment Awareness Month

CHICAGO, Sept. 29, 2023 — In a society where the pursuit of equal employment opportunities and workplace inclusion is paramount, it is crucial that we champion the rights, contributions and potential of all employees, especially those with disabilities, who have long faced barriers to inclusion. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, a vital time to reflect on the immeasurable value and diverse perspectives that individuals with disabilities bring to our workplaces and communities, and to recommit to fostering environments that are inclusive, accessible and equitable.

The theme for 2023, “Advancing Access and Equity,” underscores the essence of the American Bar Association’s Goal III: to eliminate bias in the legal profession and the justice system. As we mark the 50th anniversary of the ABA Commission on Disability Rights, we celebrate its pivotal role in promoting justice and the rule of law for persons with mental, physical and sensory disabilities, and advocating for their full and equal participation in the legal profession. Our continued advocacy includes a focus on fostering neuroinclusivity in the workplace, recognizing the importance of embracing diverse minds and thought processes.

We recognize that the path to true equality and access is through the acknowledgment and appreciation of the unique insights individuals with disabilities offer, enabling a richer, more comprehensive understanding of the clients and communities we serve. At the ABA, it is our collective responsibility as lawyers, educators, judiciary members and legal employers to intensify our efforts to make our profession more welcoming and inclusive, prioritizing diversity and neuroinclusivity, and to set a standard for the profession and greater society.

Let us use this month to intensify our commitment to breaking down barriers and ensuring that every individual, inclusive of their disability, can thrive in a world bounded by justice and equality in employment.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.