Excel as a High-Performing Agency

National Disability Employment Awareness Month 2019


Ability To Work - Count Me In! from Forest Service on Vimeo.

Portrait photo
Jerry McGaughran, National Disability Employment and Special Emphasis Program Manager, USDA Forest Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. — October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The observance dates to August 11, 1945, when President Harry S. Truman approved a Congressional resolution.  By the 1990s, disability was recognized as a key part of employment diversity.
NDEAM honors and appreciates the employment contributions of individuals with disabilities to the workplace. This year’s theme “The Right Talent, Right Now,” means that each day, employees with disabilities are contributing specialized skills and high performance to our agency’s mission and work.

Our thanks to Chief Executive, Leslie Weldon, from our Work Environment and Performance Office, for offering her remarks about NDEAM and welcoming the launch of Forest Service’s Ability at Work-Count Me In! FY 2020 campaign in support of NDEAM.

Forest Service launching our “Ability at Work- Count Me In!” campaign
In support of National Disability Employment Awareness Month Forest Service is launching our FY 2020 Ability at Work- Count Me In! campaign.  We’ll seek, through a variety of engagement activities over FY 2020, to discover a more accurate and empowering picture of how much Ability at Work “Employees with disAbilities” are contributing across pay grades and occupational series.

During October’s NDEAM, our efforts will include weekly premiering new diversity awareness videos of employees offering their stories and unique perspectives. We’ll hear how they apply their abilities, ingenuity and make use of reasonable accommodations in carrying out their duties supporting Forest Service’s mission.

Chief Christiansen offers a special thanks to all the employees, with and without disabilities, veterans and non-veterans, supervisors and leaders, that enthusiastically said “Count Me In!” to making these videos happen with their enthusiasm, time, stories, talents and passion for inclusion. 

Seeing each other’s abilities -not the disability labels & accommodating when needed
We hope these videos will inspire other employees and their work teams to also say “Count Me In!” by adding their stories, sharing their perspectives, insights and other information via various mediums and engagement opportunities over FY 2020.

Cumulatively, the more of us willing to say “Count Me In!” with our stories and other candid information, the more inspiring, affirming and empowering a message we can give each other about our “Ability at Work” — with and without reasonable accommodations. And the more we’ll discover, respect and fully appreciate how statistically common it is, among “us” contributing our talents across pay grades and career fields, to also be experiencing mental, physical and, even, multiple disabilities - including among our supervisors, managers and leaders.

The more we appreciate that “disabilities don’t discriminate!” and see each other’s abilities and not “disAbility labels, the more we’ll inspire a “Count Me In!” attitude among us for identifying workplace access and employment barriers impacting colleagues’ work, and team to address them in ways enabling us all to most benefit from each other’s abilities.