National Disability Employment Awareness Month celebrates and recognizes the accomplishments in the workplace of men and women with disabilities and reaffirms the commitment to ensuring equal employment opportunities to all citizens.
National Disability Employment Awareness Month had its origins in 1945, when Congress passed House Joint Resolution 23. This resolution established the first week in October as “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” The purpose of this resolution was to enlist support for the employment of physically handicapped workers. This resolution further requested the President to issue an annual proclamation for this week.
In 1947 President Truman established the “President's Committee on National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." This Committee assumed the responsibility of coordinating events and generating publicity for the week. Subsequently in 1949, Congress authorized an annual appropriation for the committee, and in 1954 in the Amendments to the Vocational Rehabilitation Act Congress directed the Committee to work with state and local authorities to promote job opportunities for the physically handicapped. In 1955 President Eisenhower issued Executive Order No. 10640, which established the committee as a permanent organization and renamed it the “President's Committee on Employment of the Physically Handicapped.”
President Kennedy issued Executive Order 10994 (external link) in 1962 again renaming the Committee as the “President’s Committee on Employment of the Handicapped.” This executive order also significantly expanded the Committee’s charge by instructing it to develop employment opportunities for both the physically and mentally handicapped. Recognizing this change, Congress passed Public Law 91-442 in 1970 renaming “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week” as “National Employ the Handicapped Week.” In 1988 President Reagan issued Executive Order 12640 (external link) which again renamed and reorganized the committee as the "President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.” Later that year Congress passed Public Law 100-630 which expanded “National Employ the Handicapped Week” to a month and renamed this commemoration as “National Disability Employment Awareness Month.” Most recently, President Clinton again renamed the committee in Executive Order 13187 (PDF) as the “President's Disability Employment Partnership Board.”
Legislative Branch Documents
The public laws that designated a week and then a month for National Disability Employment Awareness are available in the United States Statutes at Large which is widely available through federal depository libraries.
To establish the first week in October of each year as National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week, Chap. 363, 59 Stat. 530, August 11, 1945, currently codified in 36 USC 121 (PDF).
First authorization of appropriations for the work of the President’s Committee on National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week, Chap. 302, 63 Stat. 409, July 11, 1949.
Amendments to the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, Chapter 655, 68 Stat. 652, 659, August 3, 1954.
Pub. L. 91-442, 84 Stat. 914, October 8, 1970 broadens the applicability of the week to all handicapped workers, currently codified at 36 USC 121 (PDF).
Handicapped Programs Technical Amendments Act of 1988, Pub. L. 100-630, Title III, Sec. 301(a), 102 Stat. 3289, 3315, November 7, 1988, currently codified in 36 USC 121 (PDF) Change in language from “National Employ the Handicapped Week” to “National Disability Employment Awareness Month.”
Executive Branch Documents
Presidential Proclamations and Executive Orders have been used by presidents to rule on substantive issues of law; to administrate the executive branch of government; and to make general announcements to the public. These general announcements which exhort the public to observe a holiday such as Thanksgiving or honor a particular group of citizens as in National Disability Employment Awareness Month are usually issued in the form of a Presidential Proclamation. On many occasions Congress will pass a law specifically requesting the President to proclaim the recognition of a particular group of citizens such as Jewish or Hispanic Americans.
Executive orders which are not available online are published in Title 3 of the Code of Federal Regulations which is available at many Federal depository libraries.
President Truman’s September 21, 1945 Proclamation No. 2664, National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week, 3 C.F.R. 66 (1943-48).
Exec. Order No. 10640, October 10, 1955, 3 C.F.R. 272 (1954-1958).
Exec. Order No. 10994 (external link), February 14, 1962, 3 C.F.R. 532 (1959-1963).
Exec. Order No. 11480, Sept. 9, 1969, 3 C.F.R. 806 (1966-1970).
Exec. Order No. 12640 (external link), May 10, 1988, 3 C.F.R. 571 (1987-1988).
Proclamation No. 8574 (PDF), 75 F.R. 62301 (2010)
Presidential messages, statements and remarks before 1993 can be searched from the home page of the American Presidency Project (external link).
Presidential executive orders and proclamations as well as Presidential statements messages for National Disability Employment Awareness Month from 1994 to the present can be searched from the Government Printing Office’s Advanced Search page in the collections for the Code of Federal Regulations, the Compilation of Presidential Documents and the Federal Register.
Department of Justice, Americans with Disabilities Act Homepage
For more information on National Disability Employment Awareness Month see:
Last Updated: 02/28/2014