The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy official theme for October’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month: “A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?” The theme promotes the benefits of a diverse workforce that includes workers with disabilities, who represent a highly skilled talent pool.

“Employers who ensure that inclusive workplace policies and practices are woven into the fabric and culture of the organization create an environment that encourages all workers — including those of us with disabilities — to work to their full capacity and contribute fully to the organization’s success,” said Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy.

As background, Public Law 176, enacted by Congress in 1945, designated the first week in October each year as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” President Harry S. Truman designated the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities to carry out the observance. In 1962, the word “physically” was removed from the week’s name to acknowledge the employment needs of all Americans with disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed its name to “National Disability Awareness Month,” which eventually evolved to its current name. The Labor Department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy took over responsibility for National Disability Employment Awareness Month in 2001.