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April is Occupational Therapy Month: How OT Can Help You Reach Your Goals

By Stephanie Yamkovenko

Last month, a new Department of Labor rule went into effect that requires federal contractors to employ a minimum of 7% of employees with disabilities, in an effort to address the high jobless rates among people with disabilities. Contractors that have 50 or more employees or more than $50,000 in government work have to comply—this includes companies such as Boeing, Dell, and AT&T as well as 40,000 others.

As the companies prepare to comply with the new rule, people with disabilities may soon find more employment opportunities available for them.

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)’s members can help people with disabilities prepare to enter the workforce or participate in other meaningful activities and occupations to promote independence. AOTA is celebrating Occupational Therapy Month this April to promote the distinct value that the profession brings to people with a variety of disabilities (physical, developmental, cognitive, etc.). Below are a few examples of how occupational therapy can help people with disabilities.


Now More Than Ever: Celebrating Family Caregivers

November is “National Family Caregivers Month,” recognizing those who support people with disabilities or elderly people in their families. This year, the theme is “Family Caregivers – Now More Than Ever!”

According to the Caregiver Action Network, 39% of adult Americans are caring for a loved one who is sick or has a disability, which is an increase from 30% in 2010. As the number of family caregivers increases each year, it is important to take time to recognize and support our caregivers. If you know a person who serves that role to another, we encourage you to take time to say “thank you” in a special way this month. Caregivers can be an important part of a Ticket to Work participant’s employment team, providing support at home that helps ensure success at work.

This month reminds us that people who give of their time and talent to help others may also need care themselves. Visit these websites for more information and support resources:

Also, check out the Disability Connection: 10 Things You Need to Know about Caregiving post.


Honoring Our Nation's Heroes

During the month of November, we take time to honor Veterans. Earlier this year, the Ticket to Work program provided an information series for Veterans about helping overcome financial, employment and health challenges after completing service. In case you missed them, we’ve listed links to the informational series below:


  • Post-traumatic stress (PTSD) – Learn more about the signs and symptoms of this disorder. Also, find support and resources for Veterans and people who suffer from PTSD.

Money Mondays

Ticket Talk Podcasts

  • Catching up with Robert Statam – Meet Robert, a veteran who successfully used his Ticket to Work to improve his quality of life.
  • Army Major Jeff Hall Overcomes PTSD – Hear Major Hall’s story about two deployments and their impact on his mental health and  career. Learn about how he regained his wellness and overcame PTSD.


Improve Your Knowledge of Health Information During Health Literacy Month

October is Health Literacy Month and is the perfect time to improve your understanding of your health information! This is especially important if you are a Social Security disability beneficiary who is thinking about returning to work or trying for the first time because being able to communicate your needs is important when looking for a job that’s right for you.

This year’s theme is “Be a Health Literacy Hero” and is about finding ways to improve how to communicate health information. Health literacy is defined as the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions. During October, organizations and individuals are encouraged to promote the importance of understandable health information and services.

Health care can be complicated and the health care system can be confusing. That is why some people have trouble understanding information about their health and health care options. To help, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has published some simple steps you can take to improve your health literacy:

  • Ask questions. AHRQ developed a list of questions you can bring to the doctor, the pharmacist, or the hospital. It is important to ask questions, but it’s also important to understand the answers. If you don’t understand, ask for more information.
  • Repeat information back to your doctor or nurse. After your doctor or nurse gives you directions, repeat those instructions in your own words.
  •

"Why I Mentor"

This year, my company will again conduct Disability Mentoring Day as part of its month-long celebration of National Disability Employment Awareness Month. I first participated in a Disability Mentoring Day in 1999, when my former employer invited high school students with disabilities to visit our workplace and learn from employees—both those with and without disabilities—about their work. As a mentor, I joined in on the student “job shadowing” experience to share what my job was like and how I prepared for my career.

Michael GreenbergSince that time, much research has been conducted about the benefits of mentoring to the student-mentee, as well as to the employer and the employee-mentor. It turns out to be a “win-win-win” proposition all around. Students who are mentored more clearly understand the connection between school and work. Their ability to visualize employment is enhanced by the career awareness and first-hand exposure to the workplace that mentoring offers. They tend to perform better in school (improved attitudes, attendance, behavior and grades), have more positive relationships with their parents, teachers and peers, enjoy greater self-esteem and confidence and aspire to continue their education after high school.


Emergency Preparedness: The Importance of a Plan

On this day we somberly recall the tragic terror attacks 12 years ago on New York City and Washington, DC. Since then there has been a massive effort at the local, state, and national levels to prevent another attack and ensure people are prepared in case of another attack.  

Disaster can strike at any time.  No one understands this better than John Abruzzo, a staff accountant for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who worked at One World Trade Center (the first building to be hit by a hijacked plane). Abruzzo, a quadriplegic, was lowered down 69 flights of stairs to safety using an evacuation chair and the help of 10 coworkers.

Having a pre-determined plan for emergencies and disasters may save your life.  For people like John Abruzzo who have specific access or functional needs, having a plan is especially important.

Preparations in a work environment:

Your employer likely has an emergency preparedness plan, but you should also have a personal emergency plan that meets your needs. If you have special needs, it’s particularly important that you take responsibility for your safety by planning in advance. 


What's Your American Dream? Share and You Could Win $1,000, a Tablet and a Mentor!

By Nakia Matthews, Technology and Media Manager, National Disability Institute

NDI Dreams logo

National Disability Institute’s 3rd Annual My American Dream - Voices of Americans with Disabilities Video Contest is now underway!

We want to hear from individuals with disabilities across America about their American dreams and the steps they are taking to achieve them. Whether it’s landing a dream job, starting a career, owning a home, going to college, starting a business or taking steps toward financial independence, we encourage people with disabilities to share their goals and show that all Americans want the same thing – a piece of the American dream.


  • $1,000
  • a digital tablet of his/her choice*
  • Sessions with a mentor to help the winner take positive steps toward achieving his/her dream 

*See Official Rules for details

Be serious. Be funny. Be creative. Take a look at videos from previous finalists. Some are fancy. Some are straightforward. It’s the story that matters.

To enter:

June is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month

It’s normal to feel stressed, frightened or sad after a traumatic experience. For some people, these feelings will fade with time and recovery. However individuals who continue to experience overwhelming anxiety, sadness or fear due to the trauma may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

What is PTSD?

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after extreme emotional trauma.  Examples of experiences that might cause PTSD are war, physical or sexual abuse, natural disasters, violent crime, terrorist attacks or the sudden death of a loved one. PTSD has received increased attention in recent years, with up to 20% of returning combat warfighters of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars suffering symptoms, though any overwhelming catastrophic event can trigger PTSD, especially if the event felt unpredictable or unstoppable.

Signs and Symptoms


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