Graphic with the word Mentoring in the middle surrounded by Training, Motivation, Advice, Success, Direction, Coaching, Support, and GoalDisability Mentoring Day (DMD) is coming up on October 18. DMD events will happen across the country and help people connect with mentors and consider their employment options. Learn more about DMD events in our guest blog post from the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD).

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Access to Employment Support Services for Social Security Disability Beneficiaries Who Want to Work
 
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Disability Mentoring Day

Oct 14, 2017

By Zach Baldwin, Director of Outreach, American Association of People with Disabilities

Graphic of the word Mentoring surrounded by Training, Motivation, Advice, Success, Direction, Coaching, Support, and GoalThe month of October marks National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), which celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities. We can use this time to educate employers and the public about the value of a diverse workforce inclusive of the skills and talents of people with disabilities, too. October is also the time when disability advocates and businesses participate in Disability Mentoring Day (DMD). DMD is a large-scale national effort coordinated by the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) to promote career development for students and job seekers with disabilities through hands-on career exploration and ongoing mentoring relationships. This program typically occurs on the third Wednesday of October, coinciding with NDEAM. Participating in DMD is a great way for employers to express their commitment to disability inclusion while helping students and job seekers with disabilities explore potential career opportunities. The success of DMD relies largely on the network of volunteer DMD Coordinators across the country who organize events and connect local businesses to job seekers and students with disabilities in their area. AAPD also works with several of our corporate partners to support their efforts as DMD hosts.

Mentoring has the potential to influence students and job seekers with disabilities by increasing independent living skills, enhancing self-esteem and motivation, increasing interest in continuing education and in having a job.

DMD events take many different forms around the country depending on the participating students and employers. DMD events can include:

  • Resume workshops
  • Mock interviews
  • Job shadowing
  • Office and facility tours
  • Roundtable discussions with employees
  • Project management activities

Some DMD Coordinators even organize activities over the course of a week. Some businesses participating in DMD use that engagement as a pipeline to recruit qualified candidates to participate in their internal internship or fellowship programs, which also creates a pipeline to employment.

There is a lot of flexibility to organize a DMD event as long as it meets 2 objectives:

  1. Helps the participating students and job seekers with disabilities learn more about potential employment opportunities and develops connections to the local business community.
  2. Counteracts unconscious biases, myths, and stereotypes held by employers to make them more comfortable with disability and more likely to hire employees with disabilities in the future.

The Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) within the U.S. Department of Labor has a host of NDEAM resources and ideas for employers, educators and youth service professionals, associations and unions, disability-related organizations, and federal agencies to help celebrate disability inclusion in the workplace. You can learn more about DMD, sign up to be a volunteer coordinator, or find an event in your area by visiting the AAPD website.

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities. As a national cross-disability rights organization, AAPD advocates for full civil rights for the over 56 million Americans with disabilities by promoting equal opportunity, economic power, independent living, and political participation. Learn more at www.aapd.com.

About the writer

Zach Baldwin serves as the Director of Outreach for AAPD. He initially joined the organization in 2012 as a Development Associate and has worked with AAPD in various roles since then.

As the Director of Outreach for AAPD, Zach manages communications, programs, and special projects. On the communications end, this entails social media interaction, email engagement, and press inquiries. Current AAPD programs under Zach's purview include the Summer Internship Program for students with disabilities, the REV UP Campaign, Disability Mentoring Day, the Disability Rights Storytellers Program, the NBCUniversal Tony Coelho Media Scholarships, and the AAPD Paul G. Hearne Leadership Awards.

Zach graduated from American University in May 2014 with a double-major in Political Science and Sociology and a certificate in Advanced Leadership Studies.

Ticket to Work

Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work.

The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.

Learn More

To learn more about the Ticket program, visit www.ssa.gov/work. You can also call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842 or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.