Home > Advocacy > How Disability History Week Became Law in West Virginia
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Governor Joe Manchin signed HB4491 into law April 2006, establishing the third week in October as Disability History Week in West Virginia.
The bill was initiated by the delegates to the 2005 West Virginia Youth Disability Caucus; youth with disabilities age 16-21 from across West Virginia.
"This is landmark legislation, the first of its kind in the country. The youth with disabilities in West Virginia have been the lead and other states are beginning to follow," Ann McDaniel, executive director of the West Virginia Statewide Independent Living Council.
Mountain State Centers for Independent Living is proud to have had staff participating and facilitating at the West Virginia Youth Disability Caucus, which lead to Disability History Week as law in West Virginia becoming a reality.
As stated on the United States Department of Labor Web site, the effort to educate the American public about issues related to disability and employment actually began in 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week."
In 1962, the word "physically" was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to "National Disability Employment Awareness Month."
Every year the president of the United States signs a presidential proclamation of continued support of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.