2020 Special Events & Observances

2020 is a watershed year for landmark anniversaries of legislation supporting people with disabilities. The Department of Services for the Blind (DSB) is joining in the commemoration of these special events and anniversaries throughout the year.



National Disability Employment Awareness Month 

2020 Marks the 75th Anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month!

National Disability Employment Awareness Month has its roots in 1945, when Congress passed a proclamation stating that the first week of October would be classified as “Nationally Employ the Physically Handicapped” week in support of returning veterans. In 1962, the week was opened up to all disabled Americans when the word “physical” was removed. In 1988, the week was expanded to a month, and it was renamed with the title we know today.

In 2019, 19.3 percent of persons with a disability were employed. National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is trying to combat the low percentage of people with disabilities in the workforce.

The month of October is now host to a myriad of events and celebrations, including White Cane Safety Awareness Day and World Sight Day. In many places, it is also the setting for events promoting, and celebrating, different forms of disabilities. Many states have laws regarding the third week of October as a week for acknowledging the role those with disabilities have had in our history and the world today, as well as to bring light to how those with disabilities were treated in the past.

National Disability Employment Awareness Month is a statement that those with disabilities can – and do – accomplish great and helpful things, and that everyone should have equal access and opportunity to be a successful, integral part of society.

Events and Resources

Celebrating 100 Years of Transforming Lives

October 15, 2020 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
This NDEAM will include a celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR).  On October 15, 2020, VR100-Washington will premiere a program featuring stories of VR success from VR recipients, families, students, and professionals from across the state. The program will also feature a keynote address from Lynnae Ruttledge, former Commissioner of the U.S. Rehabilitation Services Administration.

“Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics Summary”

Bureau of Labor Statistics, February 26, 2020. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/disabl.nr0.htm 

Department of Labor's Disability and Employment timeline. 


Governor’s Executive Order 13.02 

Improving Employment Opportunities and Outcomes for People with Disabilities in State Employment https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/exe_order/eo_13-02.pdf 

Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment


Disability Employment Taskforce


Return to Top 



White Cane Safety Awareness Day, October 15, 2020

The long white cane is a tool for many blind people. It seems to have always been there, ready to help the independent traveler discover their surroundings. But it has only become powerful, and prevalent, in the past fifty years, despite being used sporadically throughout history. The symbolism of the cane has grown so powerful in fact that it has its own day to promote and reinforce how amazing it is, and all it does in the lives of millions. 

Events and Resources

DSB and our community partners are excited to share our annual White Cane Safety Day (WCSD) Events! Learn more about DSB WCSD activities. 

WCSD Fact-a-Day

Starting October 1, you can learn about the White Cane, blind etiquette, traffic safety, and more on our Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/DSBWashington

WCSD Trivia Party

October 15, 12:00 p.m.
Put your knowledge about blindness, the White Cane, and related topics to the test!

Statewide White Cane Awareness Walk

October 15, 12:30 p.m.
Take a walk through your neighborhood, or favorite park, with your white cane (if you have one), your mask, and a socially-distanced friend!



National Federation of the Blind WCSD website


Washington Driver Guide


Revised Code of Washington 70.84.040 

Precautions for drivers of motor vehicles approaching a wheelchair user or pedestrian who is using a white cane, dog guide, or service animal.

Return to Top



30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), July 27, 2020

On June 26, 1990, President George H.W Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. The Rose Garden ceremony was the result of decades of protest and advocacy by individuals with disabilities, families, and grass roots organizations across the country and made it illegal to discriminate against people based on disability in the areas of employment, public accommodation, public services, transportation, and telecommunications. 

Thirty years after its signing, the ADA continues to protect people with a variety of disabilities, including those experiencing short term or temporary disability caused by accident, injury, or illness. 

Events and Resources

Washington’s 30th Anniversary Celebration


National ADA Center 


ADA Webinar Archives 


Return to Top



100th Anniversary of Vocational Rehabilitation, June 2, 2020

2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the first federally funded program to assist people with disabilities who had not acquired their disabilities as a result of serving in the military. Federally-supported Vocational Rehabilitation services in the U.S.  began with efforts to help disabled veterans of World War I return to work. 

Two years later, in 1920, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Smith-Fess Act of 1920, also called "The National Civilian Vocational Rehabilitation Act." This act established the first federally-funded program to assist people with disabilities who had not acquired their disabilities due to serving in the military, and was primarily seen as retraining people with a physical disability to do another job that did not involve the physical limitations that they had.

Events and Resources

Celebrating 100 Years of Transforming Lives

Thursday, October 15, 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Vocational Rehabilitation—100 Years Later 


VR100 Washington Facebook page


Vocational Rehabilitation: 100 Years of Investing in America


VR – The First 100 Years

Return to Top