Disability Mentoring Day: A Promising Practice in Promoting Career Exploration
Each October during National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) works with the Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy to promote Disability Mentoring Day (DMD).
On Disability Mentoring Day, young people with disabilities throughout the country spend a day finding out about the skills and education needed to succeed in different kinds of careers. Students are referred to job shadows and DMD program events by DMD Local Coordinators. Many communities also plan kick-off breakfasts, all-day informational seminars, and/or end-of-day receptions for community participants to attend.
For example, the DO-IT Disability Mentoring Day serves Seattle and surrounding areas. Both college and high school students visit employers such as Microsoft, Boeing, and the Federal Aviation Administration to meet with mentors, many of whom have disabilities themselves.
Research has shown that students with disabilities benefit from work-based learning experiences as much as, if not more than, their peers without disabilities. Work-based learning opportunities help students clarify academic and career interests, fund education expenses, apply knowledge gained in the classroom, develop interpersonal and job searching skills, and develop contacts for employment after graduation.
Disability Mentoring Day is a unique and valuable program for students with disabilities. This promising practice increases career knowledge for thousands of students with disabilities every year, helping them make better decisions about their academic and employment goals.