Disability Awareness 2023

The 2023 National Disability Awareness month artwork displays individuals with varying abilities within a blue and beige patchwork design, to pay homage to the work of deaf quilter, Theresa Matteson Coughlan.

A Message from the Strategist

It brings me great joy to kick off National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) for NIH! Throughout October, we will celebrate this year’s national NDEAM theme, “Advancing Access and Equity,” and take time to recognize the achievements of individuals with disabilities in the workforce and renew our commitment to building an inclusive and accessible future for all.

Embracing diversity and building inclusion is not just about employment, it is about fostering a culture where every person, regardless of ability, is recognized for their strengths and provided with equitable opportunities for success.

This month, I urge you to listen to the experiences of your colleagues with disabilities. By sharing stories of triumph and challenges, we build empathy, understanding, and a collective determination to co-create a more accessible and inclusive society. This begins with small steps, such as socializing hiring authorities to recruit people with disabilities, ensuring digital resources are Section 508-compliant, and discovering the new, and innovative assistive technologies that expand opportunities for everyone. It is a matter of fairness and respect, allowing others, regardless of their abilities, to participate fully in the workplace.

With your help, NIH can become a trailblazer in championing accessibility and inclusion for employees with disabilities. Together, we can create a brighter, more accessible future for generations to come.

Céline Dazé

Céline Dazé
People with Disabilities Employment
Portfolio Strategist

A Message from Leadership

Dear Colleagues,

Observed each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) provides us with the opportunity to celebrate and recognize the contributions and accomplishments that people with disabilities bring to the workforce. This year, the national theme: “Advancing Access and Equity” encourages us to reaffirm our commitment to building an inclusive and diverse workplace that empowers individuals with disabilities.

This year’s NDEAM is particularly significant, as it coincides with the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The Rehabilitation Act is a piece of landmark legislation that prohibits discrimination based on disability in employment by federal agencies, federal contractors, and recipients of federal funds, and in the delivery of federally funded programs and activities. The Rehabilitation Act serves as a reminder of the dedication in the United States to furthering accessibility in the federal workforce.

Against this backdrop, we want to highlight that NIH maintains the same determination to advance accessibility for all, which represents a major component of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. While we honor employees with disabilities during NDEAM, we must also advocate for greater accessibility all year long and celebrate those who advance greater inclusion. To that end, we are excited to announce that the NIH Champions and Allies of Disability Awards, which have become synonymous with NDEAM, will officially become a part of the NIH Director’s Awards this fall. What began as a grassroots initiative stewarded by dedicated champions for disability justice has developed into a part of our prestigious awards program. We look forward to announcing the inaugural recipient(s) of our new NIH Director’s Accessibility Award later this year.

Lastly, we hope you make time this month to engage in conversations, listen to your colleagues’ experiences, and utilize the resources provided. Let us all embrace our differences to foster a culture where every individual feels valued, respected, and empowered to achieve their fullest potential. Please visit EDI’s website, explore the blog posts, follow the office on LinkedIn and X (Twitter), and watch EDI’s YouTube channel to stay informed on the exciting things that are happening this month.


Dr. Tabak

Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Acting NIH Director

Kevin D. Williams, Esq.

Kevin D. Williams, Esq.
EDI Director


In this installation of “What Women Want… at Work,” podcast host, Emma Kaufman and guest co-host Céline Dazé chat with three amazing guests that discuss their work experiences as individuals with disabilities. This episode features Devora McCoy - Program Analyst, NIH Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare, co-chair of the NIH Neurodiversity employee resource group, Teresa Shea Booher - Information Technology Specialist, NIH Office of the Chief Information Officer, chair of the Three Blind Mice employee resource group, and Krystal Johnson-Steele - Deputy Branch Chief, NIH Office of Human Resources.


Ableism — Acknowledging It and How to Become Anti-Ableist

Video is On Demand

Are you trying to understand ableism and learn how to be a better colleague to employees with disabilities in your workplace? Join us for an eye-opening webinar, featuring Special Emphasis Portfolio Branch Director David Rice, that provides an introductory overview of ableism, how to recognize it when it occurs, and how to interrupt it when it happens.

Section 508 - A Conversation with NIH Section 508 Program Manager Antonio Haileselassie

Monday, October 16, 2023 | 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm EDT

Join Disability Portfolio Strategist, Céline Dazé, and NIH Section 508 Program Manager Antonio Haileselassie, for a conversation about Section 508, digital accessibility, and how to be a champion for disability justice in the workplace. Learn ways to make your work more accessible for your colleagues and why it matters. This live webinar will include ASL interpreters and a live captioner.

About the Artwork

Quilted artwork, 'Change,' by deaf quilter, Theresa Matteson Coughlan.

The artwork for our 2023 National Disability Awareness Month (NDEAM) observance showcases quilted patchwork depicting a vast array of abilities. It is inspired by the quilted artwork, “Change,” by deaf quilter, Theresa Matteson Coughlan. The imagery showcases the interconnectedness of the disabled community.

Learn more about the artist.