National Disability Employment Awareness Month
National Disability Employment Awareness Month celebrates and recognizes the accomplishments in the workplace of men and women with disabilities and reaffirms the commitment to ensuring equal employment opportunities to all citizens.
National Disability Employment Awareness Month had its origins in 1945, when Congress passed a law to “To establish the first week in October of each year as National Employ the Physically Handicapped Month,” ch. 363, 59 Stat. 530. The purpose of this law was to enlist support for the employment of physically handicapped workers. This resolution further requested the President to issue an annual proclamation for this week.
In 1947 President Truman established the “President’s Committee on National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” This Committee assumed the responsibility of coordinating events and generating publicity for the week. Subsequently in 1949, Congress authorized an annual appropriation for the committee, and in 1954 in the Amendments to the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, ch. 655, 68 Stat. 652, Congress directed the Committee to work with state and local authorities to promote job opportunities for the physically handicapped. In 1955 President Eisenhower issued Executive Order No. 10640, which established the committee as a permanent organization and renamed it the “President’s Committee on Employment of the Physically Handicapped.”
President Kennedy issued Executive Order 10994 in 1962 which again renamed the Committee as the “President’s Committee on Employment of the Handicapped.” This executive order also significantly expanded the Committee’s charge by instructing it to develop employment opportunities for both the physically and mentally handicapped. Recognizing this change, Congress passed Public Law 91-442 in 1970 renaming “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week” as “National Employ the Handicapped Week.” In 1988 President Reagan issued Executive Order 12640 which once again renamed and reorganized the committee as the “President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.” Later that year Congress passed Public Law 100-630, title III, §301(a) which expanded “National Employ the Handicapped Week” to a month and renamed this commemoration as “National Disability Employment Awareness Month.” Most recently, President Clinton renamed the committee in Executive Order 13187 (PDF) as the “President’s Disability Employment Partnership Board.”