Kessler Foundation Press Releases

Kessler Foundation Marks National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Innovative vocational research and targeted grantmaking help prepare jobseekers with disabilities for pandemic-era opportunities

nDeam - National Disability Employment Awareness Month


East Hanover, NJ—This year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month theme, America’s Recovery – Powered by Inclusion, is reflected in Kessler Foundation’s pandemic-era research and grantmaking.

In 2021, Kessler Foundation expanded its research in vocational resource facilitation, a model based on intervening early to help the newly disabled stay in the workforce. Recognized for achieving significant increases in employment for inpatients with recent spinal cord injuries, the Foundation received major federal funding to build on its success and test the model’s efficacy in other populations.

John O’Neill, PhD, director of the Center for Employment and Disability Research, commented: “Innovations in vocational rehabilitation research are receiving greater attention, as more companies express interest in hiring people with disabilities. Advances in this research will support a more diverse and inclusive workforce.”

This year, Kessler Foundation awarded nearly $1 million in grants to support initiatives that prepare people with disabilities to meet the evolving needs of employers during America’s recovery. The largest grant went to the SHRM Foundation, Inc., the non-profit arm of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), to develop its Employing Abilities @Work certificate program.

“Companies, and in particular HR professionals, need tools, resources and capabilities to hire, train, and retain people with disabilities,” explained Elaine E. Katz, MS, CCC-SLP, senior VP of Grants and Communications. “This grant will help ensure that jobseekers with disabilities are considered for job opportunities.”

To frame the impact of COVID-19 on U.S. employment, the Foundation expanded its monthly National Trends in Disability Employment (nTIDE), adding a mid-month COVID Update that compares the progress of people with and without disabilities as they navigate the ever-changing job market. “Despite recent gains, the employment gap between people with and without disabilities remains large,” noted Katz, “motivating us to strive for effective ways to narrow this gap. Our nTIDE Lunch & Learn live webinars, held twice monthly, are an opportunity to engage with our experts and contribute to efforts aimed at narrowing the gap.” Learn more here:

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility, and long-term outcomes -- including employment -- for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities.