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10 Ways to Celebrate Disability Month

10 Ways to Celebrate Disability Month

Celebrating Disability Awareness Month in March, Disability Pride Month in July, and National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October is a powerful way to foster a more inclusive workplace. In this post, you’ll find 10+ actionable, fun disability month ideas for your team.

These observances offer an opportunity to promote awareness, champion accessibility initiatives, and organize inclusive activities. These initiatives can benefit both employees and the organization! By embracing and planning ahead for celebrations, your company can create a supportive environment that values diversity, encourages equal opportunities, and enhances overall morale and productivity.

Emphasizing the importance of inclusivity and support for individuals with disabilities not only enriches the company culture but can also drive innovation and success. Read on to learn more and discover how your team can create a more inclusive and affirming environment at work.

A few of our favorite ideas:

  • Learn about the history of activism for accessibility and equity
  • Invite guest speakers or organize a panel session
  • Partner with organization or nonprofits that serve people with disabilities
  • Start an employee resource group (ERG) for employees with disabilities
  • Explore podcasts, books, and movies highlighting different disabilities and related topics

In this post, you’ll find:

  • Educational ideas to honor Disability Awareness Month in March
  • Fun workplace activities to commemorate Disability Pride Month in July
  • Ideas to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October
  • Ways to create a stronger, more connected, and welcoming work environment
  • Actionable ideas to build acceptance and inclusivity at work for all employees

Celebrating Disability Month – Ideas for Work

There are a wide variety of ways to honor and celebrate people with disabilities throughout the year. Hosting awareness events, implementing accessibility initiatives, planning inclusive activities, and supporting the disabled community are all ideas that your team can put into action to create a more inclusive workplace. Let’s explore how!

1. Organizing Disability Awareness Events

Disability Awareness Events

To foster greater understanding, help your team learn about different types of disabilities and how to create a more inclusive workplace for everyone. Disability awareness events can help everyone learn together, becoming advocates for everyone on the team to thrive.

Some examples of awareness events include:

  • Hosting a guest speaker
  • Organizing a panel discussion with a Q&A session
  • Planning an educational film screening
  • Integrating a disability simulation for better understanding

Remember to pay your guest speakers and provide honorariums for panel participation, etc. In honoring and celebrating people with disabilities, it is important to not use these activities as a means by which to extract free labor and knowledge.

2. Implementing Accessibility Initiatives

Employees with disabilities deserve equal access to resources and facilities at work. Take the opportunity to explore your workplace’s accessibility initiatives and brainstorm new initiatives that may be needed or helpful in ensuring equity at work.

Accessibility initiatives could include:

  • Installing ramps
  • Constructing accessible restrooms
  • Utilizing assistive technologies
  • Accessible website design (pro tip: widgets like UserWay can help automate this!)
  • Offering adjustable workstations that can be customized for differing physical needs
  • Ensuring all company videos include captions
  • Hiring ASL (American Sign Language) interpreters for keynote speeches, events, etc.
  • Installing Braille signage

Visit ada.gov to learn more about workplace accessibility laws, regulations, and standards as well as explore a variety of resource materials.

3. Planning Inclusive Activities

It goes without saying that inclusive activities should be a year-round endeavor! That said, months that recognize people with disabilities provide a perfect opportunity for even more inclusive fun with your team. A few ideas: social events, team-building activities, and workshops that promote inclusivity and celebrate the diverse talents and contributions of individuals with disabilities.

For instance, the Disability Pride event from Unexpected Virtual Tours & Training blends learning and fun for an hour-long interactive, virtual team experience. Hear the stories of individuals and coalitions who have fought for the civil rights of disabled people in the U.S. from the 1600s to the present. Your team will get to celebrate these success stories together. Then, interactive trivia games reinforce the lessons learned, while a live-streamed virtual “field trip” adds an element of adventure.

Reach out below to learn more and book your event!

4. Highlighting Success Stories and Role Models

Celebrate the resilience, strength, and tenacity of the disability community by sharing inspiring stories of individuals who have overcome challenges and made significant contributions in their fields.

For instance, you can host film screenings, organize a book club, share a Ted Talk, or invite a guest speaker. Remember that when celebrating success stories, it’s important not to minimize real challenges and barriers that people with disabilities often face. No amount of “positive attitude” will turn stairs into a ramp; structural change is needed alongside inspirational stories and successes.

For an eye-opening look at a success story that changed society through the power of activism, watch this 20-minute video on “The Power of 504.” This video from the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund shares about the 1977 “504 Sit-In” demonstrations. This nearly month-long sit-in resulted in the signing of the 504 Regulations – the first Federal Civil Rights law protecting people with disabilities.

5. Providing Educational Resources

Educational Resources - Disability Month Ideas & Activities

Offer educational resources such as books, articles, podcasts, and movies that promote greater awareness and understanding of people with disabilities. Encourage employees to engage with these resources and share their insights with their colleagues.

This list of resources from the University of Virginia Library includes recommendations like “The Disruptors,” a 2022 film that examines “both historical figures who exhibited symptoms associated with ADHD, such as Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Andrew Carnegie, [and] well-known figures from the worlds of entertainment, sports, and business who have ADHD.”

Or, start an impromptu book club at work and read books like Demystifying Disability by Emily Ladau, Disability Visibility by Alice Wong, or another book by a disabled author. Additionally, explore this list of 8 Disability Podcasts That Are Well Worth a Listen from Forbes.

6. Partnering with Disability Organizations

Collaborate with local or national organizations that serve disabled people to provide support, resources, and guidance for employees with disabilities. These activities can also benefitting the organization that you work with, creating a win-win for everyone. Activities can include inviting representatives from these organizations to speak at events or provide training sessions and workshops.

You can also partner with nonprofits that provide resources for – and/or advocate for – the disabled community. Consider sponsoring an event, organizing a volunteer project, or amplifying the nonprofit’s message and mission. Moreover, keep the partnerships going year-round! If your team enjoys the project, consider planning a quarterly volunteer day, or make a monthly contribution.

7. Celebrating Different Types of Disabilities

Celebrating Unique Differences and Disabilities - Disability Month Ideas

There are many types of disabilities – from physical disabilities to sensory disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and mental health conditions. Remember, many disabilities are “invisible.” In other words, you may not be able to tell that someone is disabled simply by looking at them, or even interacting with them.

Even people with similar disabilities may have different needs when it comes to what will set them up for success. Remember to listen to each individual’s unique needs to make accommodations that will help each employee thrive.

Honor and celebrate each team member’s differences by offering flexible work arrangements, accessible facilities, inclusive communication (including text, audio, and visual aids), training programs, “quiet zones” in the office, and open dialogue.

8. Promoting Disability Etiquette and Language

Often, people have good intentions – but they may not be aware that something they are saying or doing is offensive or outdated. To facilitate ongoing learning, offer your team guidance on etiquette and inclusive language.

These efforts can help foster respectful communication and interactions among employees. For instance, you can provide examples of appropriate terminology and ways to address and interact with individuals with disabilities.If you’re not sure where to start, engage an external consultant, guest speaker, or training organization.

You can also book a fun and educational program that blends learning with team camaraderie. Our Disability Pride Virtual Tour is an hour-long live, virtual experience that shares stories of activists from the 1600s through today.

9. Encouraging Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)

Employee Resource Groups

Forming Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) focused on awareness and support for employees with disabilities is another one of our favorite disability month ideas. It’s also a great year-round idea!

These groups can provide a safe, interactive, welcoming platform for employees with disabilities and allies to connect, share experiences, and advocate for inclusive practices within the organization. Furthermore, an ERG can be help employees unwind with social activities after the workday and build strong interpersonal relationships at work. In turn, this can help improve cross-departmental collaboration, problem-solving, communication, and trust in the office.

To learn more about creating an ERG, read our blog posts on this topic:

10. Celebrate Diversity Months All Year Long!

Go beyond monthly celebrations to embrace advocacy and equity all year long! Additional ideas to explore throughout the year include:

  • Examining hiring practices to ensure an inclusive process for disabled applicants
  • Host ongoing volunteer opportunities and/or philanthropic initiatives to support the disabled community
  • Plan monthly or quarterly awareness events or training sessions
  • Create a mentorship program for employees with disabilities
  • Regularly update digital materials and physical spaces with accessibility in mind

For further learning, browse this list of resources on implicit bias, ableism, and disabilities from Memorial Hall Library in Andover, Massachusetts.

How Inclusive Communication Can Spark Employee Engagement

Creating a work environment that prioritizes inclusive communication means using respectful language, offering information in various formats (e.g. sign language interpreters, real-time captioning), and ensuring everyone has equal opportunities to participate and succeed.

This can be achieved by setting clear ground rules with your team for respectful conversations, encouraging active listening, and allowing multiple formats for contributions – for instance, written, verbal, and visual inputs.

Additionally, regularly seeking feedback from your team and making adjustments to your communication practices can help create a supportive atmosphere where everyone feels heard, respected, and valued.

Create a Lasting Impact in the Workplace, Embrace Disability Inclusion

In this post, you learned how to celebrate and honor Disability Awareness Month in March, Disability Pride Month in July, and National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October. We explored fun, educational, actionable ideas for teams of all sizes to learn and connect together.

We encourage you to apply what you’ve learned from this post by actively promoting awareness and inclusion at work and in your community. By embracing diversity and fostering a culture of inclusivity and support for individuals with disabilities, we’ll create more welcoming and productive workplaces for everyone.

It’s important to remember that each of us can play a meaningful role in creating change, no matter our job title or role. Decide within yourself to become a champion of inclusion, not just during monthly observances, but throughout the year. Our collective ongoing efforts to create accessible, inclusive workplaces is key when it comes to creating a more equitable future for all.

Continue learning, continue raising awareness, and continue taking action to support inclusion and equity as an ongoing journey!