The month of October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). The purpose of NDEAM is to educate about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. This year, the theme is “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion” by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy, to reflect the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement through this incredibly trying time in our history.
In recognition of this month, we wanted to showcase some individuals with disabilities whose contributions have made an impact in the work that we do. The USPTO has also published a similar, larger list of inventors with their inventions/patents here.
- Claudia Gordon: Claudia is the first deaf Black female attorney in the United States, currently working in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. Previously, she has held a position in the White House Office of Public Engagement as the Public Engagement Advisor to the Disability Community where she worked to ensure that contractors doing business with the Federal government do not discriminate and take affirmative action. She was also the first deaf person to work at the White House in a detailee capacity.
- Thomas Edison: Most of us have heard of Thomas Edison from our science and history classes. However, many of you might not have known that Thomas Edison was also completely deaf in one ear and hard of hearing in the other. Edison, however, was known to consider this a blessing as it kept conversations short so he could have more time for his work. Thomas Edison holds over 1,000 Patents, including a very well-known one for his invention of the “Electric Lamp”.
- Nikola Tesla: Nikola Tesla was an inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electrical supply system. Nikola Tesla also was known to have obsessive-compulsive disorder and a sight disability. He also holds over 100 U.S. patents.
If you want to get involved this month or even just learn more about the contributions specific to our industry, the American Bar Association has some great resources here. They also have a great video they created last year that talks about how hiring lawyers with disabilities can add immense value to a team.