By Proclamation 2542, Governor Lee declared October 2023 as Tennessee Disability Employment Awareness Month in support of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). In our state, the Division of Rehabilitation Services’ Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program at the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) consistently works to ensure Tennesseans of all abilities have the opportunity to reach their full potential as members of our state’s community, workforce and economy. To commemorate and celebrate the contributions of workers with disabilities, the TDHS VR team is hosting and joining several NDEAM events taking place across the state.
TDHS NDEAM Events
Statewide NDEAM Events
- ADHD in the Workplace Webinar: On Thursday, October 26, 2023 at 9:00 am CST, VR virtual event.
West Tennessee NDEAM Events
- Chamber of Commerce Benefits of Hiring People with Disabilities Presentation: On Thursday, October 19, 2023 from 9:30 am – 11:00 am CST at the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce, 495 Main Street, Savannah, TN 38372
Middle Tennessee NDEAM Events:
- ResourceAbility Assistive Technology Access Fair: Happening Monday, October 16, 2023, starting at 1:00 pm CST at the Farm Bureau Expo Center, 945 East Baddour Parkway, Lebanon, TN 37087. Registration details at Gov/HumanServices/Events.html. For questions, e-mail TN.TTAP@tn.gov.
- Job Seeker Preparation Day + VR 101 Job Fair: Happening Tuesday, October 24, 2023 from 9:00 am -3:00 pm CST and Wednesday, October 25, 2023 from 8:30 am – 1:00 pm CST at the Community Tennessee Rehabilitation Center, 955 E. 20th Street Cookeville, TN 38501.
East Tennessee NDEAM Events:
- Project SEARCH 10th Anniversary and Knoxville Area Employment Consortium Breakfast: Happening Thursday, October 19, 2023, 8:00 am EST at the Rothchild Catering and Conference Center, 8807 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37923. Registration details on the events page of the KAEC website.
Tennesseans can learn more about the NDEAM events taking place in their area by calling 833-751-0597. A list of additional events can be found on the Hire My Strengths webpage.
Vocational Rehabilitation: Where Ability Means Employability Year -Round!
Although NDEAM is a great time to raise awareness about the value workers with disabilities bring to the employment sphere, the Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program at the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) works year-round to support Tennessee workers with disabilities. VR offers counseling, guidance, training, employment, support and pre-employment transition services (Pre-ETS) and has resources to assist Tennesseans with low and no vision, who are deaf, deaf-blind or hard of hearing and other individuals who have disabilities that are physical or intellectual. Details about the VR program can be found on the TDHS website and Tennesseans can call 833-751-0597 to speak to an agent about disability employment resources and services. VR is able to offer these options and connect Tennesseans with disabilities, their advocates, and potential employers with resources that pave pathways to employment and elevated levels of independence through the work of dedicated team members.
A Team That Supports Disability Employment Every Day
Two disability employment professionals that exemplify the spirit of NDEAM each day in their work at the Tennessee Department of Human Services are Roane County Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Dr. Laura Payne and Johnson City Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Greyson Jennings.
Dr. Laura Payne paved the way for individuals with disabilities to receive a public-school education and demonstrated that students with disabilities can participate in regular educational settings and graduate from a public school just as their peers without disabilities. On July 26, 2023, Dr. Payne received the Jordan R. Hiles Achievement in Advocacy award at the Disability Resource Center’s 33rd ADA anniversary and 50th anniversary of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act celebration. Her work set an example for professionals like Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Greyson Jennings to follow.
In May 2023, Greyson Jennings received the Self-Determination Award from The Arc® Tennessee for being an outstanding self-advocate and role model for others. Mr. Jennings brings many great attributes to the VR team such as passion, perseverance, and dedication to serving others. In addition to participating in NDEAM events, TDHS is proud to celebrate the work of Mr. Jennings and Dr. Payne and other dedicated team members who contribute their time and talents to help Tennesseans with disabilities find independence through employment.