March has been recognized as National Disabilities Awareness Month since 1987 when President Ronald Reagan officially declared Proclamation 5613. The proclamation urged people to provide understanding, encouragement, and opportunities to help people with disabilities to lead productive lives and to achieve their full potential.

“Full potential” — these words should have new meaning for us now, as we embrace NMC’s new Vision, which states, “We aspire to be a global community where all learners unlock their full potential.” March gives us the opportunity to focus on this underrepresented population and to support the inclusion of these individuals.

Did you know, 26 percent (one in 4) of adults in the United States have some type of disability?

What can I do to support inclusion for those with disabilities?

Educate yourself on the topic of disabilities.

There are four major types of disabilities:

  • Physical
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral or emotional, and
  • Sensory impaired disorders

What are some examples of common disabilities?

  • Acquired brain injury
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Deaf or hard of hearing
  • Intellectual disability
  • Mental health conditions
  • Physical disability
  • Vision Impairment

How can you support inclusion in the office, classroom or online?

Begin with the basics. Ensure your information is accessible to everyone. The following courses are available through the Professional Development Institute catalog to assist you in making information accessible. Click the links below to read course summaries and to view these short (10 minute to 1 hour) training modules.

Everyone wants, and deserves, to enjoy life, feel productive and secure. This month we are taking extra steps to raise awareness and to support people with disabilities and to celebrate their contributions to our communities and society as a whole!

While there has been significant and positive change in the decades since, many challenges remain for this vulnerable population. We know this population can make a positive difference in our communities, if given the opportunity to unlock their potential.

Join us as we celebrate March as National Disability Awareness Month to embrace diversity and to create a sense of inclusion and belonging for this important group among us!

— Lori Hodek