October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and the Knoxville Area Employment Consortium (KAEC) is hosting a Disability Employment Awareness Breakfast Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016 from 7:45 – 9:30 a.m. at the Downtown Hilton, 501 West Church Avenue. Free parking is available in the garage next to the Hilton.

Friday, Oct. 21, is the deadline for registration. Email Bob Sexton at the Cerebral Palsy Center at bsexton@cpcenter.org or register online at http://tiny.cc/KAEC2016.

The history of National Disability Employment Awareness Month traces back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

Josh Blue, artist, comedian and former member of the U.S. Paralympic Soccer Team will be the keynote speaker at the breakfast on the 27th. This year’s theme is “InclusionWorks.”

“The City of Knoxville is always proud to be a part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. We want to spread the important message that we value diverse perspectives, including those of individuals with disabilities,” said The City’s ADA Coordinator Stephanie Cook.

Cook is the current Chair of the KAEC. The City has participated in Disability Mentoring Day (DMD) since 2002. “We have really enjoyed the residual benefits of mentoring people with disabilities,” Cook said. “They help City departments understand people who are different and determine ways to make the workplace more equitable for all people. Even with the great promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we are still unable to legislate or change public perception about people with disabilities, which must happen in order for people with disabilities to realize their full potential. However, by being a mentor to a person with a disability, City staff are learning about people with disabilities and how we all have more in common than not—which is ultimately what changes attitudes and perceptions!”

Held annually, National Disability Employment Awareness Month is led by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, but its true spirit lies in the many observances held at the grassroots level across the nation every year. Employers of all sizes and in all industries are encouraged to participate in NDEAM.

Emerson Process Management is the gold sponsor for the breakfast.

“Emerson Process Management is committed to improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities and I’m excited that the company is part of this year’s celebration. I encourage folks to attend! You don’t want to miss an opportunity to hear Josh Blue and learn about some exciting initiatives in Knoxville,” Cook said.

Employers and employees in all industries can learn more about how to participate in National Disability Employment Awareness Month and ways they can promote its messages — during October and throughout the year — by visiting www.dol.gov/ndeam.