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National Disability Employment Awareness Month and White Cane Awareness Day

This month, the Law Library is proud to celebrate the 75th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. We previously announced its connection to the 30th anniversary of the ADA by showing ways in which the Library of Congress focuses on improving accessibility to our collections. Through the Office of Disability Employment Policy (part of the U.S. Department of Labor), the focus this year is on “Increasing Access and Opportunity.”

National Disability Employment Awareness Month poster. Text says: Increasing Access and Opportunity / Celebrating 39 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act / 30 ADA 75 NDEAM / National Disability Employment Awareness Month / #ADA30 #NDAM75 dol-gov/odep Right side includes pictures of individuals in boxes

National Disability Employment Awareness Month Poster 2020. Published in 2020 by the U.S. Department of Labor. Retrieved from https://www.dol.gov/odep/topics/ndeam/2020English.htm

The original purpose of National Disability Employment Awareness Month was to educate the public about the issues related to disability and employment, but has grown to include paying tribute to the accomplishments of people with disabilities. The Library of Congress website has a detailed history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month and the Law Library webpage includes the legal history for the celebration of this month.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has a website that covers disability discrimination, with many links to resources at the bottom of the page. Through the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, ada.gov offers information and technical assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): current regulations, enforcement activities (cases and briefs), reports and updates, and A Guide to Disability Rights Law. The Law Library also has an excellent resource on social security disability law.

Today, October 15, is also White Cane Awareness Day. Originally coined “White Cane Safety Day,” the focus has shifted towards education on how the white cane provides blind people with independence. Using a white cane takes instruction and training, as well as lots of practice, but helps give blind people the ability to travel freely and safely.

Boy walking independently using a white cane.

My friend, Gabriel Wahlberg, using his white cane to walk independently up an accessible ramp to Mount Mitchell in North Carolina. Photo by Rebecca Wahlberg.

The Library of Congress includes the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS), which provides free audio, large print, or braille reading materials to those with low vision, blindness, or physical disabilities that prevent them from reading or holding the printed page. I was surprised to learn that these materials also include kids’ books, magazines, foreign language, music materials (including a blog), and eBraille.

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