By Cloe Michaud, Class of 2020
“Empowering all” is this year’s theme for National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) and that’s what Priscilla Harrison, the director of ADA services and compliance/ADA coordinator, plans to do at Clemson. Harrison helped plan this year’s events for NDEAM to celebrate the contributions of persons with disabilities, promote accessibility and equal opportunity, and educate on the value of a workforce with diverse skills and talents.
Harrison’s colleague, Jerry Knighton, assistant vice president for Access and Equity/Executive Director of Supplier Diversity, explained why NDEAM is important to Clemson’s campus.
“NDEAM provides an opportunity to celebrate the rich, multicultural contributions employees with diverse abilities bring to our campus, he said.”
NDEAM began in 1945, when Congress declared the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. Congress dropped the word “physically” in 1962 to acknowledge individuals with all types of disabilities and expanded the week to a month, and changed the name to NDEAM in 1988.
This is the third year that Clemson has participated in NDEAM. To mark the month, the university will welcome speaker Vilissa Thompson on Oct 23. Thompson, a licensed master social worker, is the founder and CEO of Ramp Your Voice! and is an accomplished disability rights consultant, writer and activist, will present “Pay Me What I’m Worth: Valuing the Work of Disabled People.” The event will take place from 4:30 until 6 p.m. in the Watt Family Innovation Center auditorium. The talk is open to faculty, staff, students and the community. A Q&A session after the presentation will allow participants to gain greater insight.
“We are honored and excited to have Vilissa Thompson present for NDEAM 2018,” Harrison said. “She has been a leader in promoting self-advocacy and strengthening empowerment among persons with disabilities.”