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Curb cuts. Braille in elevators. Closed captioning. Signers in public meetings. They did not exist when the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990. A reflection on the 25th anniversary of the ADA, which makes a crucial difference for over 50 million Americans with disabilities – and their families.
Kenneth Roman, longtime member of NOD’s Board of Directors and Dartmouth classmate of Alan Reich, founder of NOD, reflects on Reich’s personal experience of disability – and the journey it led him on: from the State Department to the United Nations, and ultimately to the founding of the National Organization on Disability.
“When I was in school, I had never seen anyone in a wheelchair. There have been great, positive changes in attitudes toward participation by the disabled. I consider myself fortunate to be able to do the work that I do.” - Alan Reich
Carol Glazer, president of the National Organization on Disability, a non-profit dedicated to the disabled community in the U.S., told USA TODAY the findings should be viewed to see how disability affects income and unemployment levels.
The non-profit’s research has found that 20% of people with disabilities have a job, while 69% of people without disabilities are employed. However, younger Americans with disabilities have nearly the same access to education as children without disabilities, Glazer said. Glazer is optimistic that more educated and disabled individuals will lead to more employment among the disabled community.
When it comes to talking about disability, we don’t.
Nearly one in five Americans reports living with a disability, yet our silence prevents us from aiding in destigmatization, fair access and equal opportunity.
Along with major forms of social discrimination, such as denying employment to people with disabilities or using the R-word, there are seemingly little things able-bodied people do every day that aren’t so inclusive. And those little things need to change.
Here are six things you should think about in order to be a stronger ally to disability communities.
On July 26, 1990, when former President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans With Disabilities Act into law, it was heralded as the beginning of a new era of improved access and employment for people with disabilities.
As the nation celebrates this landmark civil-rights legislation impacting an estimated 56 million Americans, or 19 percent of the U.S. population, the progress of people with disabilities in the workplace remains a challenge. With new laws impacting employers and a growing realization in corporate America of the need to hire more skilled workers, disability advocates are cautiously optimistic.
Former Pennsylvania Gov. and NOD’s Chairman Tom Ridge and CNN’s Michael Smerconish discuss President George H.W. Bush and the Americans with Disabilities Act, which celebrates its 25th Anniversary this week.
HUFFINGTON POST BLOG By CAROL GLAZER, President, National Organization on Disability
This week many are celebrating the unprecedented improvements that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has brought to the quality of life for millions of people with disabilities in the 25 years since it was signed into law on July 26, 1990. But the work of guaranteeing access to the American dream is far from over.
When it was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush amid an overwhelming show of bipartisan support, the ADA promised to enable people with disabilities access to go to school, to church, to the theater and to work. Like the Civil Rights Act on which it was modeled, the ADA viewed the exclusion of people with disabilities from civic life and the workforce as discrimination. Keeping people with disabilities from the mainstream was no longer justifiable. When President Bush signed the ADA, he noted its significance as a civil rights act, meant to “ensure that all should have the opportunity to blend fully and equally into the rich mosaic of the American mainstream.” (Click here to watch how President Bush feels about his legacy, 25 years later.)
The labor-force participation rate in the United States is at its lowest point in almost 30 years (62.9%) and a global shortage of 95 million workers within the next five years is predicted.
Yet a huge segment of the population is dramatically underemployed – people with disabilities…. Why, when there is such a growing need for workers, is this population so underutilized?
Kassandra and Nicole are twins.They have cerebral palsy and use wheelchairs to get around. They are two of more than 3,000 students who are graduating from Daytona State College this spring. It’s an accomplishment more and more people with disabilities are achieving.
In Florida, the number of graduates with disabilities has grown from 2,680 in the 2009-2010 school year to 3,681 in the 2013-2014 school year, according to data provided by the Florida College System.
The statewide trend mirrors the trend nationally, said Carol Glazer, president of the National Organization on Disability. She
believes the increase is due to the creation and constant improvement of the special education system in K-12 schools. More of these students are also graduating from high school, at only an 8 percent lower rate than students without disabilities.
On a panel discussing Kroger’s new disabled worker program, Howard Green, deputy director, corporate programs for the National Organization on Disability, told an audience at the Warehouse Education and Research Council (WERC) annual conference in Orlando last week that at one Walgreens distribution center in Connecticut, more than 50% of the workers are disabled and - get this - there are some 40 deaf fork truck drivers….
A single executive in Kroger’s mid-south or Nashville region heard about these types of program, and challenged managers in the region to see if such a program could be launched, starting with a single major distribution center in Cleveland, TN. This facility was selected in part because at times Kroger has had recruitment challenges there, moving to a high level of case picking automation to compensate for a challenging local labor pool.
The National Organization on Disability (NOD) is making a corporate connection.
Headed in a new direction of corporate services, the organization’s endeavors are supported by a $1 million lead corporate grant from the Prudential Foundation….
“We’re changing a program that’s been funded by mainly philanthropy for the past five years, in which NOD has worked with a dozen Fortune 1,000 companies and we’ve helped them to hire more people with disabilities and better support those already in the workforce,” NOD President Carol Glazer told DiversityInc.
Recent rule changes by the U.S. Labor Department require nearly 50,000 companies who do business with the federal government to create a goal of having seven percent of their workforce comprised of people with disabilities, according to Glazer.
“Propelled by that, we’re taking [Corporate Services] and changing it into a social enterprise,” she said.