I’m a little late on this one, since it’s the last day of the month (Happy Halloween!), but October is actually National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). It’s a bit of a mouthful of a name, but it’s a really important month and something that I wish more people knew about – it actually wasn’t something that I’d heard of until this year!
I’ve talked before about the quick assumptions that people make when they meet me – and one of those is the assumption that I don’t have a job. Unintentionally or not, people definitely have a hard time untangling physical disabilities and mental impairment. And it’s also absolutely true that the rate of unemployment for people with disabilities is drastically higher than the rate of unemplotment for people without disabilities. So I’m glad that there’s a month that can bring awareness to both things – that people with disabilities are underemployed, and that they are more than capable of having jobs and careers.
I had the honor of speaking at Pitt’s event for NDEAM, jointly held by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Disability Resources and Services office. This was my first “big” talk about everything that I’ve been doing… it’s easy for me to get it down here, in words, but I was a little more nervous about speaking in front of people. I usually don’t stress to much (or rehearse too much) for public speaking things – I want it to sound natural and conversational, and not over-rehearsed. But this time, I was asked to speak for 15-20 minutes, which is the longest, by far, that I’ve ever been asked to talk! Luckily, the talk went smoothly, and I was able to talk about what I’ve been doing and answer questions, too. I was really glad to see the topic being discussed, and proud that I was able to be part of it!