October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. It is held each year as a national campaign to raise awareness about disability employment issues and disability in general. The theme this year is “Expect. Employ. Empower.”
Back in 1945, NDEAM used to be called “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week” lasted only the first week of October. In 1962, congress removed the word “physically” in order to include and acknowledge disabilities of all types. In 1988, congress renamed the campaign to “National Disability Employment Awareness Month,” extended it throughout the entire month of October, and NDEAM is what we have today.
There is a Disability PRIDE event on Thursday, Oct. 30 in the Carlson Theater from 1:30-2:30 p.m. Thanks to receiving funding from clubs like the Disability Resource Center, Phi Theta Kappa and Associated Student Government, Bellevue College has the chance to bring the renowned speaker Lydia Brown to our campus from Georgetown University. She will present “Beyond the Imagined Normal: Disability, Pride & Culture.” As a noted intersectional social justice and social model of disability activist, Lydia Brown is published and runs a hugely successful blog called “Autistic Hoya,” which is well-known nationally and internationally. As an autistic woman herself, Lydia Brown supports the idea of “Nothing About Us Without Us” and the LGBTQ movement. The event will mostly revolve around the essence of social and disability justice. “We are okay with what we are and who we are,” stated Susan Gjolmesli, the director of the Disability Resource Center. Please plan to arrive early, because the event is advertised and open to the public. With reception to follow, please plan to stay after the event, since there also might be arrangements for guests to interact with Lydia Brown directly during reception.
Gjolmesli will most likely participate in the “Human Library” coordinated by Saya Horibe, held on Tuesday, Oct. 7. Critical conversations will also involve both students and staff, “topics may include: Disability Face, non-visual disabilities, [and that] Guide Dogs are working—Don’t Pet!” According to A.J. Duxbury, the Assistant Director of the DRC. Movies or short films will also be shown in the cafeteria throughout the Disability PRIDE Month. Specific films are yet to be announced.
The Bellevue College Disability Resource Center has come up with ideas and projects to promote awareness of Disability Month around the campus. Putting a twist on the ongoing PostSecret community art project, the Disability Postcard Project aims to voice ideas of what “disability” means to all students (disabled or not). Through the anonymous postcard arts, students can reveal their own experiences and attitudes towards disability in their lives, on campus and in society. All submissions are due Friday, Oct. 24, by 5 p.m. All submitted postcards will be displayed throughout the campus on the last week of Disability Pride Month, Oct. 27-30.