Every October in America, we celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) to highlight the accomplishments and adversities of working persons with disabilities in an effort to include their lived experiences and further our national commitment to providing equal opportunity and access for all.
Led by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and supported by national and local organizations, the real spirit of this awareness month lies within the meaningful collaboration, participation and sustained support for the disability community through inclusion-education events — both virtual and in-person, and visual stories published digitally and in-print.
The Library of Congress website lays out the historical timeline and evolution of NDEAM advocacy as follows, “This effort to educate the public about the issues related to disability and employment began in 1945, when Congress enacted Public Law 176, declaring the first week of October each year as National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week. In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. Some 25 years later, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.”
To honor NDEAM, we’re hosting a live discussion on October 20th at 2pm (ET) with two Special Olympics team members, Sydnye White and Robert Jones; employees with two different levels of ability and they’ll be sharing why Inclusion Matters. During our one-hour virtual webinar, they’ll share the origins of Special Olympics and how their team has established inclusive content creation operations so employees and athletes of all abilities can have agency over how their stories are told and shared.
When Robert Jones, a Special Olympics athlete and marketing team member with intellectual disabilities was asked by Sydnye to join this virtual event, he shared his biography and in that, the importance of this session came into full view:
“Special Olympics is important to me because it gives a person with disabilities a chance to have interaction with different athletes from all over the world. I think that it shows the public and the world that you shouldn’t be afraid of interacting with a person with disabilities because we are pretty much all the same. People shouldn’t judge us by what they see, they should get to know us better and find out that even that we might be slow in one area, we make up for it in sports, but we show the world that we have rights and have the right to have an enjoyable life.”Robert Jones, Special Olympics Athlete and Marketing Team Member
About the Speakers
Sydnye White serves as the Senior Director of Content and Storytelling at Special Olympics International. She is passionate about combining ideas, visuals and sound to create compelling content that helps people think differently about the world in which we all share. At Special Olympics, that means she is always on the hunt for stories and platforms to demonstrate that athletes in the movement are change makers on and off the fields and courts, in their communities, countries and in the world! To do that, she manages the collection and sharing of digital assets, executive produces original videos and oversees written content for the web.
Robert Jones has been a Special Olympics marketing and communications team member for over 20 years. He’s also a Special Olympics Athlete with intellectual disabilities who has competed for over 26 years. He creates graphics to promote different competitions and community and corporate events, including the corporate holiday cards seen and appreciated globally. To showcase his work to a wider internal audience, he also hosted an art show at the Special Olympics HQ.