Historian Paul Longmore - Man dressed in suit and wearing glasses stands behind microphone at rally with people holding signs in the background

On October 18, 1988, historian Paul Longmore burned his own book in protest of disincentives and draconian spend down requirements associated with federal and state Social Security laws for people living with disabilities. This symbolic protest eventually led to groundbreaking legislation 11 years later called the Ticket to Work/Work Incentives Improvement Act (TWIIA). Today, NDEAM honors legislation like this as it shines a light on a path forward that includes challenges unique to our current environment. Source: Photos by Tom Olin – The Tom Olin Collection

Building on a highly successful debut in July, ADA Lead On, the disability rights production company established to honor the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, created another event to mark the 75th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) in October.

ADA Lead On: Honoring National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)

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The above logo depicts two gold comedy and tragedy masks with red and blue lip-readable PPE face masks showing the smile of comedy and frown of tragedy, next to a paint brush that is creating a musical staff that ends with a silhouette of Alice Sheppard, a dancer using a wheelchair. The words "ADA LEAD ON" at the top, and "Honoring National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)" beneath.

This ADA Lead On production celebrates disability employment in America by featuring the compelling voices, talents and perspective of leaders, advocates, artists and entertainers from the disability rights movement today.  It explores issues and concerns prominent in disability employment right now, such as the COVID-19 workforce, mental health, employment in media and authentic representation, accessible technology and more. 

Wholly created by professionals with disabilities – in front of and behind the camera/keyboard – the show was hosted by entertainers Maysoon Zayid and Danny Woodburn and featured the voices and talents of:

  • Disability rights advocates, journalists and activists like Haben Girma, Lydia X.Z. Brown, Alice Wong and Keah Brown
  • Performers Ryan J. Haddad (The Politician), Jillian Mercado (The L Word: Generation Q), Steven Way (Ramy) and Zach Gottsagen (Peanut Butter Falcon)
  • Singers/Musicians Jen Msumba, Tobias Forrest and Gaelynn Lee
  • Dancers Auti Angel and Anna Eichen

Representatives from the following organizations also played a role:

  • National Council on Disability, Neil Romano, chairman
  • Disability: IN, Jill Houghton, president and CEO
  • TransCen/Mid-Atlantic ADA Center, Karen Goss, co-director
  • World Institute on Disabilities, Tom Foley, managing director
  • AT&T, Corey Anthony, SVP of Diversity & Inclusion
  • Ability, AT&T’s 4,400-member Employee Resource Group, Crystal Baker, national president

This ADA Lead On NDEAM show illuminated the U.S. Department of Labor’s chosen theme, Increasing Access and Opportunity. Like other productions created by ADA Lead On, this NDEAM show focused on lifting voices that represent multiply marginalized communities. Directed and produced by Tari Hartman Squire, Danny Woodburn and Maysoon Zayid, the event extended the success of ADA30 Lead On: Celebration of Disability Arts, Culture, Education & Pride, July 23, 2020, a virtual event that reached 77,675 people with its important message about disability rights.


Lead On! #ADALeadOn #NDEAM75 #ATTDiversity #ATTAccessibility