Communities across Canada are readying displays of dark blue and purple lights for Light It Up! for NDEAM, an annual celebration for National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
The colourful displays are intended to cast a spotlight on the many ways persons living with disabilities contribute to businesses and help companies be successful and competitive, says Linda Simpson, Director of Rehabilitation Services at Performance Plus Rehabilitative Care Inc. (PPRC). PPRC’s participation in 2021 helped ignite nationwide awareness and conversation about the important business benefits of disability inclusion.
Now in its third year, the one-night event brings together dozens of sites across every province and two territories to illuminate structures such as bridges, commercial buildings, businesses, landmarks, airport control towers, city and town halls, libraries, museums, schools, homes, and municipal signs.
“The campaign promotes disability inclusion in employment,” says Simpson. “It’s important that businesses get engaged and prioritize inclusion for enhancing their expertise and brands.”
The Oct. 20 event is significant for PPRC as they build on a 28-year track record of helping persons living with disabilities in securing sustainable work, as well as helping employers be more inclusive in their culture and recruiting practices.
Message of inclusion spreading at the speed of light
NDEAM is a decades-old celebration in October that recognizes the many ways persons living with disabilities contribute to businesses and their communities.
Light It Up! For NDEAM was started in 2020 by the Ontario Disability Employment Network (ODEN) as part of its annual NDEAM campaign. The colour of lights is significant, with purple symbolizing creativity, harmony, and co-operation. Dark blue represents trust, dignity, authority, professionalism, intelligence, and loyalty.
In 2021, the event went national in collaboration with the Canadian Association for Supported Employment (CASE) and MentorAbility Canada, with more than 300 participating locations.
Jobs Ability Canada, the only national AI recruitment platform built by and for persons living with disabilities, has joined the 2022 campaign.
PPRC is one of the local coordinators for MentorAbility, matching job seekers living with disabilities to employers either to meet-up virtually or in-person for a half day or full day to learn more about their careers and work.
“Myths and stigmas abound, and employers might perceive that someone living with a disability can’t do a job,” says Simpson. “The truth is that many people with disabilities are well-educated, holding multiple degrees. If employers don’t tap into this talent pool, they will miss out on exceptional talent and the competition is going to get ahead.”
Sparking conversations and creating change
Throughout October there will be opportunities to engage with Light It Up! For NDEAM on social media by using campaign hashtags such as #LightItUpForNDEAM, #NDEAM, and #EngageTalent. The campaign also encourages engaging with local politicians and media to highlight the importance of promoting disability inclusion in the workplace and beyond. Wearing blue and purple on Oct. 20 is another way to support the campaign.
A full list of participating locations is available at the ODEN’s website. Locally, the Ottawa sign in the Byward Market will be lit purple and blue.
Simpson notes employers who recruit from PPRC’s talent pool for ongoing or upcoming job competitions can access an array of support services. For more information and to get started, visit pprc.ca or call 613-748-3220.