WATCH: NOD Chairman Gov. Tom Ridge Commemorates 20th Anniversary of 9/11

Tom Ridge: The heroes of Flight 93 ran toward danger to save the lives of others

At our country’s worst moment, we survived on a steady diet of kindness, generosity and compassion.

Tom Ridge, Opinion contributor

Twenty years have passed since the terror attacks of Sept. 11. It’s a milestone to be sure. But no amount of time can fade my memories of that day.

What I remember most about 9/11 is stepping off the helicopter at Shanksville, Penn. – and being met by the brutal sound of silence. Emergency personnel searched the fields. Ambulances were at the ready. Rescue workers wanted someone to save.

But the passengers and crew of Flight 93 – 40 heroes strong – were the first, first responders on the scene.

They had already run toward the danger. They had already taken up the battle. And they were already in the arms of God.

A wonderful group called Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial has created a Heroes Award in their honor so their story is never forgotten. Could anything be more appropriate?

Above a Pennsylvania field, and the Pentagon’s stone and the once-towering World Trade Center, we lost nearly 3,000 souls from more than 80 nations. We lost them too terribly and too soon.

And yet, despite the weight of pain and anguish on our shoulders, we pulled together.

Do you remember? Some of you brought foil-covered plates of food to firefighters. Others held candlelight vigils in cities, large and small. Stores ran out of flags. Schools and communities raised money for grieving families. On the steps of the Capitol, members of Congress sang “God Bless America.”

Visitors come together during the night illumination at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Penn.

At our country’s worst moment, we survived on a steady diet of kindness, generosity and compassion. You may not find those words in any national security plan. But I can assure you – those concepts are just as critical to our national resilience as any component of national defense.

News can be overwhelming

I know the country seems fractured at the moment. And that the daily news headlines seem too much to bear. Some of you have told me you’re feeling overwhelmed by the challenges we face and uncertain about our ability to meet them.

But I would ask you to remember: Our shared values, our shared responsibility to one another and the country we all cherish – that’s been the hallmark of the American story for the past 20 years, for the past 245 years.

Even in these past 20 months, doctors, nurses, teachers, grocery clerks, truck drivers, people everywhere, have pulled together to keep our economy moving, our students learning and all of us healthy and safe.

We are a nation of more than 333 million people – of many colors and cultures, of many religions and political beliefs. But do you remember? We’re also a nation of Rosie the Riveters. Of Live Aid concerts and charity telethons, community bake sales and clothing drives. We’re the hearts and billfolds that open daily for the vulnerable among us – our elderly neighbors, the hungry, the homeless, victims of hurricanes and earthquakes.

That’s who we are. That’s in America’s DNA.

Common humanity unites us

We know that our humanity toward one another is our saving grace. We know this – not because we were always good to each other in the past, or because we’ve always been a truly United States.

We know it because, at times, we’ve strayed from that humanity, that empathy and that unity. We’ve learned from the consequences of our mistakes that America is not perfect – so we try harder and strive to be a more perfect union.

The late Sen. John McCain was a dear friend of mine for decades. “Do not despair of our present difficulties,” he said in his farewell message, “but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable.”

John took nothing for granted. He fought every day of his life for the greater good. For the country he loved. For the cause he believed in most – service above self.

I’m profoundly grateful for the opportunities I was given to serve my country. From soldier to secretary, I’ve seen America on its worst days and its best. I’ve seen people give all they had to give. And I’ll never forget it.

I’ll never forget the silence on a Pennsylvania field one September morning.

Or the sacrifice of 40 heroes strong.

I’ll never forget all of those we lost 20 years ago. Too terribly and too soon.

May we keep their memories close – as well as each other.


Tom Ridge was governor of Pennsylvania on 9/11. He later served as the first U.S. secretary of Homeland Security.

Could the lessons of the pandemic be a boon to workers with disabilities?

Working from home has proved liberating for many workers with disabilities, and many hope the flexibility of work during the pandemic have staying power. shironosov via Getty Images/NPR
Female freelance programmer in modern headphones sitting in wheelchair and using computers while coding web game at home

August 26, 2021 | Hosted by David Brancaccio

Listen to the interview

Before the pandemic, Britney Wilson’s daily commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan took her two hours. She has cerebral palsy, and uses arm crutches and a motorized scooter to get around. Her subway stop isn’t accessible, and she has to specially arrange to take a paratransit bus. Just this week, she did the commute again for the first time in nearly two years. She said it was an annoying reality check.

“I was just like, ‘Oh, okay. Back to this again, here we go again,’” Wilson said.

More than 61 million Americans live with disabilities, and many of them have been asking for more flexible work arrangements for decades. Now, as employers contemplate a return to the office, and re-think workplaces, there’s an opportunity to make offices, both virtual and in-person, more accessible.

“We don’t want a ‘back to normal.’ Normal was was never enough,” said Maria Town, president and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities. “I hope that employers are really examining what has worked well during this period of time, and how to continue that.”

Britney Wilson, with the long commute, is director of the Civil Rights and Disability Justice Clinic at New York Law School. She said she likes being there with her students in person, and also likes that she has a flexible schedule, where she’ll be able to work from home sometimes.
“We need to give people what it is they need. If what you need is to come into the office twice a week, and work from home the other three days, you should be able to do that,” said Wilson. “If you don’t need to come into the office at all, then don’t do that.”

The technology companies have adopted to enable remote work has also benefited many people with disabilities. Moeena Das, the chief of staff at the National Organization on Disability, is deaf. Prior to the pandemic, if she was in a meeting, a stenographer also joined to transcribe what people were saying. That took some advance planning. Now, Das uses automatic captioning in Zoom, meaning she can jump on last-minute calls.

“It’s been really incredibly liberating to be in any context and say, ‘Yep, I can hop right in,’” Das said.

Das, who also lip reads, says it’s also good to think about how in-person office policies, such as mask mandates, will affect people with disabilities.

“What might that mean for employees who might have a cognitive disability, or employees who might be deaf?” said Das. “I’m really thinking holistically about how the office is organized.”

One concern is that more virtual interactions will make disabilities less visible in the workplace, said Maria Town of the American Association of People with Disabilities.

“During the pandemic, because people only see me from the bust up, I have to be more explicit about my disability in different ways than I would in an in-person environment,” said Town, who has cerebral palsy.

Town is concerned that remote work, which she believes should definitely be an option, will become the default for disabled people, especially those who require more involved accommodations in the workplace.

“Our motivation and commitment to actually making our physical environments and in-person interactions accessible will be reduced,” said Town.

Given everything we’ve learned during the pandemic, employers have a great opportunity to hire more disabled workers. Of the working age population, only about 30% of disabled Americans are employed.

“Getting back to pre pandemic levels is not enough,” said Taryn Williams, assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy at the US Department of Labor.

Plus, employers are missing out on a ton of talent.

“I say all the time, we’re the ultimate innovators,” said Britney Wilson of New York Law School. “Our whole lives are about figuring out how to adjust and to do things, even when they’re not set up for us to do so.”

No judgment, just empathy: How to approach disabilities in a post-COVID era

By CAROL GLAZER | NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, AUG 24, 2021 5:00 AM

The Olympics may be over, but the Paralympics, with its 240 incredible men and women representing the United States, are in high gear. What a proud and thrilling time for our country as we witness our best athletes excel in their sport and, in the best of circumstances, win a medal.

Despite everything going on in the world, the Summer Olympics and the Paralympics give us a sense of belonging and a chance to connect with our family, friends and co-workers as we discuss the most memorable moments.

Simone Biles and Noah Lyles
Simone Biles and Noah Lyles (Getty/Getty Images)

What strikes me as an even bigger moment for our nation was when athletes like gymnast Simone Biles and runner Noah Lyles decided to share their own personal mental illness stories with the world. It was a stark reminder to us all about the pressures these athletes feel every day. Most likely, we will soon see more stories about athletes experiencing anxiety resulting from the added pressures of competition. (According to the International Paralympic Committee, paralympic athletes are likely to experience a range of stressors that will compromise their personal well-being.)

I was diagnosed nearly a decade ago with PTSD, so I know first-hand how difficult it is to say, “I need help” or “I am struggling.” It’s public figures like Biles and Lyles, and former gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps who show real courage and give others the confidence to publicly disclose their mental health issues. They show us there is no shame in that. Phelps even started a foundation that focuses on support for healthy living, and a central component is mental health.

According to Mental Health America, 44 million adults have a mental illness and nearly one in five American adults will have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year. Unfortunately, those numbers will most likely continue to rise as our country continues to grapple with racial injustice, unemployment and the uncertainty about the future caused by the global pandemic.

As businesses bring people back to the office, they are keenly aware that some employees will have difficulty adjusting to the “next normal” in the workplace, juggling expectations at home and in the office.
Company managers need to keep in mind that they may be supervising “long haulers,” or people who have long-term mental health and physical issues caused by COVID-19. This not only could have an impact on employees but on a business’ work productivity. Anxiety and depression are real, and as a nation, we need to take action and help each other. It may be challenging to deal with the stigma of those mental illnesses, but the consequences of not acting — lost productivity, lost workdays, and in the extreme, suicide — are far greater.

We need to have honest conversations about these issues in the workplace. We need to make sure our colleagues are okay if they seem to be suffering. And we need to train managers, those involved with employee assistance programs and all co-workers in how to spot anxiety and depression and how to help those who seem to be suggesting that they might need help.

The paralympics may be over in a couple of weeks, but let’s not end the important conversation that came out of these international games this year. I urge all of us to not judge others, have empathy and keep helping our friends and family who are suffering from mental illness. We as a country win when everyone knows they can open up about their mental health challenges.

Glazer is president of the National Organization on Disability.

Celebrating NOD’s Chairman Tom Ridge on the 31st Anniversary of the ADA

Pres. George HW Bush smiling while shaking hands with Gov. Tom Ridge

Six years ago NOD Chairman and former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge sat with President George H.W. Bush to discuss the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act at the White House 25 years prior. The conversation was deep and meaningful, and President Bush remarked that it was one of his “proudest accomplishments”.

Today, as we celebrate the 31st anniversary of the ADA, we also celebrate the strength and resilience of our chairman, who as a congressman voted for the passage of the ADA and has dedicated his life to promoting the ADA’s principles of ensuring that every American has a right and an opportunity to participate in our economic progress.

We trust that Gov. Ridge is maintaining the values of optimism, courage in the face of adversity, and generosity of spirit that he taught us at NOD so well, as he continues his recovery from a stroke. All of us across the disability community are thinking of him and wishing him well.

Then Congressman Tom Ridge on stage with Pres. Bush during his term

Return to the workplace highlights accessibility concerns for disabled employees

Americans with disabilities in the workforce disproportionately affected by COVID-19

As COVID-19 restrictions loosen and the country settles into a new normal, disability advocates have mixed feelings about the future of the workplace and public health in the U.S.

Marcie Roth, executive director and chief executive officer of the World Institute on Disability, hopes the accommodations that have been made for all workers during the pandemic continue as the world goes back to normal.

“For lots of people with disabilities, returning to normal horrifies us,” Roth said. “Returning to normal means exclusion, inaccessibility, rigidity, a lack of imagination. Rather than the notion that we would be building back better … we would really like to be building forward better.”

Some accommodations have become commonplace during the pandemic — like equipment requests, modifications to work environments and new schedules and responsibilities. Advocates are demanding that these adaptations are not only kept in place, but embraced by workplaces across industries.

PHOTO: Charles Catherine works from his home in this undated photo.

Adjusting to a new normal

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Charles Catherine, who is blind, had to adjust his daily routine to the new safety precautions.

At work, his laptop’s screen reader had helped him read the text displayed on the computer and he had co-workers to help him around the office.

But once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended social isolation and Catherine was forced to stay at home, the new computer software for remote work wasn’t immediately compatible with his screen reader.

However, after a few lessons on app workarounds and accessibility updates, Catherine was able to comfortably and efficiently work from home.

“We often talk about how resilient people with disabilities are, that they’re problem solvers,” Catherine said. “The pandemic was a great example of that.”

PHOTO: Charles Catherine runs with a guide in this undated image.

Catherine, the associate director of special projects at the National Organization on Disability, is one of about 61 million disabled Americans who had to adjust to a world with COVID-19, according to numbers from the Department of Labor.

Catherine was lucky enough to have employers who are knowledgeable about accessibility needs, so adjustments were almost immediate.

Now, he hopes all employers can see the value in disabled workers and create safe spaces for them.

A growing disabled workforce

People with disabilities are joining the workforce in increasing numbers — rising above pre-pandemic levels.

The disabled labor force participation rate grew to 35.4% in June, according to a report from the Kessler Foundation, a research group focused on people with disabilities, the highest participation rate for this group since July 2009.

“This has been a bright spot during the Covid-19 pandemic, as people with disabilities, perhaps out of economic necessity, remained engaged in the labor market,” John O’Neill, the Kessler Foundation’s director of the Center for Employment and Disability Research, said in a press release.

Roth said that when the pandemic hit, the requests disabled workers had long been fighting for became a reality once the non-disabled population was also threatened by the virus.

“We have a saying in the disability community: ‘Nothing about us without us,'” Roth said. “Employers, schools, community leaders, elected officials, can’t be planning for us. We need to be at the table.”

COVID-19 fears remain

As coronavirus cases rise again in the U.S., disability rights activists, like Roth and Charis Hill, are asking employers to understand workers’ fears concerning the ongoing pandemic.

“My life is still threatened, more so now that people are partying and pretending that there’s no danger,” Hill, a writer and advocate, said. “A lot of that has to do with them not even realizing the vaccines are less effective with people like me.”

The delta variant of the novel coronavirus continues to ravage countries across the globe. Last week marked the fourth in a row that the number of new COVID-19 cases increased internationally, according to the World Health Organization.

Activists would like to remind others that the pandemic isn’t over yet, especially for immunocompromised people.

“Everyone now knows what it’s like to live with the threat of severe health issues and we’ve been doing that for our whole lives,” Hill said. “Policywise, as we move forward, having disabled people at every table where public health decisions are made is vital for the health and safety of the world.”

Gov. Tom Ridge Upgraded To Stable Condition

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tom Ridge, the 43rd governor of Pennsylvania and first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, has been upgraded from critical to stable condition at a hospital in the Washington, D.C. area after having suffered a stroke June 16.

Gov. Ridge, 75, suffered a stroke at his residence in Bethesda, MD last Wednesday. He was conscious when he arrived at the emergency department and later underwent a successful procedure to remove a blood clot.

Former Pennsylvania First Lady Michele Ridge said last week the family is hopeful for a full recovery while recognizing Gov. Ridge “will have a long road ahead, no doubt. But we take comfort and strength knowing what a determined fighter Tom is and that he has come back strong from health challenges in the past.”

Further updates will be provided as events warrant.

 

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STATEMENT FROM FORMER PENNSYLVANIA FIRST LADY MICHELE RIDGE UPDATING HEALTH STATUS OF GOV. TOM RIDGE

STATEMENT FROM FORMER PENNSYLVANIA FIRST LADY MICHELE RIDGE UPDATING HEALTH STATUS OF GOV. TOM RIDGE

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former Pennsylvania First Lady Michele Ridge today shared the following statement regarding the health status of her husband, Tom Ridge, the nation’s first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and 43rd Governor of Pennsylvania:

“Tom suffered a stroke early on Wednesday. His excellent medical team continues to monitor and evaluate his status. We are hopeful for a full recovery while recognizing he will have a long road ahead, no doubt. But we take comfort and strength from knowing what a determined fighter Tom is and that he has come back strong from health challenges in the past.

“Our family has been overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of all those who have reached out – from across the country and around the world – to send prayers, share encouraging words and offer assistance. It is comforting and means a great deal to all of us. Please keep your prayers coming.

“I’d like to thank the emergency medical services team who took such good care of Tom getting him to the hospital and to the nurses, doctors and staff who are working with compassion and care to help Tom in the early stages of his recovery.”

As of 4pm ET today, Gov. Ridge’s official status remains critical, but stable at a hospital in the Washington, D.C. area. Further updates will be provided as warranted.

 

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Gov. Ridge + Judy Heumann: A Civil Rights Win for People with Disabilities to Land a Job

Headshot of Tom Ridge and Judy HeumannHere’s truly something to celebrate: Dedicated funding to support people with disabilities who want to get back to work.

Judith Heumann and Tom Ridge, Opinion contributors 
Published 6:00 AM ET, April 14, 2021 | USA Today

A year after the pandemic began, people with disabilities finally can obtain the tools and assistance they need to earn a living and stay independent.

The American Rescue Plan, recently passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden, allocates $12.7 billion for what’s known as home and community-based services, or HCBS, through 2021. This is truly something to celebrate — finally dedicated funding to support people with disabilities who want to get back to work.

HCBS is an important source to keep people with disabilities at home, in their communities and out of costly nursing homes or group living setting where we now know COVID-19 thrives. And it provides a critical lifeline to employment.

Many people with disabilities have said for years that they could work if they were given the needed accommodations. Now that conversation, which largely went unaddressed, is a reality.

For example, HCBS pays for internet and assistive technology, allowing people with disabilities to work from home. It provides transportation upgrades, including adaptions to vehicles, so they can drive to work. It pays for job coaches who accompany people with more significant disabilities to their jobs to ensure they are able to fulfill their responsibilities.

And, critically important, it funds personal care attendants who help with bathing and dressing. They also cook meals, can do light housekeeping, and otherwise get their client set up for the day.

People can’t work if they can’t get out of bed. Home aides give those with disabilities a way to be productive, live independently and earn a living. This is not only important because we all want and need a purpose to our lives, but because it helps our nation’s economy, especially now.

People with disabilities should be sought-after employees. They understand how to work through challenges because they face adversity every single day. Ask anyone with a disability and they will tell you this creates an incredible motivation.

Instead, they are always the last hired and the first fired when workforces constrict, and COVID has exacerbated this problem. More than 1 million people with disabilities have lost their jobs during the pandemic. 

HCBS funding can narrow the gap between people with and without disabilities in the workforce. It not only levels the playing field, it also returns money to the federal government through employee taxes. It is one of the most cost-effective investments our nation can make as the economy recovers.

While we see HCBS funding as a great win, more needs to happen to provide equity for people with disabilities. Some states took much too long to establish timetables on when people with disabilities could access vaccines, and they continue to worry about being on the losing end of health care rationing. Both issues are deadly serious for people with disabilities and must be addressed.

COVID or not, an increase in HCBS funding is long overdue and should go beyond the one-year limit included in the American Rescue Plan. This is a lifechanging program for people with disabilities who are tired of being left behind.


Judith Heumann is a disability rights activist. Tom Ridge was the first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and chairman of the National Organization on Disability

How Remote Work Changed Our Lives — and Our Health

Mixed up work schedule, missing out on workouts and feeling like it’s all running together? Yeah, you’re not alone.

By Leslie Nemo | April 3, 2021 5:00 PM

Even if people wanted to work entirely from home before the pandemic began, their year of telecommuting probably didn’t start the way they had envisioned it — stripped of child care while avoiding contact with people outside their bubble, all in the effort to dodge a novel coronavirus.

Welcome or not, the remote workforce had to adjust, maybe watch their physical and mental health change in the process, and possibly find themselves in scenarios they would like to keep going long after their office buildings officially reopen.

New Virus, New Schedule

From May to June of 2020, a team of University of California, Los Angeles researchers surveyed nearly 1,000 newly-remote employees about how their days and habits had changed. One of the biggest modifications workers reported dealt with when they sat down to work: Nearly 75 percent of those surveyed had shifted their work hours, while 37 percent had rearranged their schedule to accommodate others in their home. Who people worked alongside changed, too: Nearly half said other people were in their workspace at the same time.

For some employees, a chance to rearrange work schedules and work from home is exactly what they wanted. Disability rights advocates have long been pushing for employees with disabilities to have the freedom to telecommute if that’s what they need. The pandemic has made that scenario a reality for everyone, and is particularly valuable to workers whose disabilities mean they are also more vulnerable to getting COVID-19 and need to socially distance. Though it’s painful to see that remote work was widely acceptable only once people outside the disability community wanted it, “it’s nice to realize that it’s working fine and should have been implemented decades ago,” says Charles Catherine, the associate director at the National Organization on Disability, a nonprofit that advocates for employment of people with disabilities.

Default work from home and remote gatherings have meant that employees who can’t drive have been able to go without time-consuming and expensive alternative transportation options to the office. For Nicole LeBlanc, advisory group coordinator for the National Center on Advancing Person-Centered Practices and Systems and a disability rights activist, perpetual work from home has meant no longer scheduling and paying for a 6 a.m. pick up in time for a 9 a.m. drop off at her office, a commute that takes people in their own cars 40 minutes. “Spending half your paycheck on transit doesn’t make sense,” she says. “Now that it’s virtual, I don’t have that stress.” Employees with disabilities who regularly see doctors now might be in an office culture where there’s less focus on when they have to be in the building and more emphasis on getting tasks done, leaving them the freedom to schedule work around appointments.

Flexibility in someone’s daily work hours accommodates other demands in their life, and some people cope better with a constant back and forth between responsibilities than others. Clear boundaries between work and home help some people create order in their lives, says Tammy Allen, an industrial-organizational psychologist at the University of South Florida. Transitions between the different phases, like when a parent is getting ready for work in the morning but also preparing kids for a day of school, can create conflict and stress. The more moments of overlap, the more anxiety. So instead of undertaking a couple of challenging periods in a day, people working from home during the pandemic might constantly ping-pong between responsibilities, crossing boundaries — and feeling stressed — more often. Or, if they’re trying to parent throughout work, the day could be one big overlap.

When Allen and her team surveyed people about their work-life balance when first made to work from home, they expected the boundary-lovers to have the hardest time keeping a good mix of work, leisure and family time in their new routines. They were surprised to learn that wasn’t the case. Instead, participants who liked segmentation weren’t any worse off than others who liked more overlap in their day. Allen and her team think that maybe employees had developed coping skills in the pre-COVID era that they were able to carry home with them, or learned new tactics quickly out of a desire to keep the boundaries. For example, “they shut off that computer and they put it away at 5 o’clock,” Allen says, or learn to detach for a while. “Having some period of time where you let work go is beneficial for an individual’s health and well being.”

Where Stress and Parenting Collide

Being able to separate home life from work life can be helpful, as can compartmentalizing the struggles of raising kids. Research has shown that parent and kid stress during the pandemic go hand in hand. In one study, for example, adults who said they were coping with moderate or severe anxiety during the pandemic were more likely to report that their kids had higher anxiety, too. At-home schooling threw another complication into the dynamic. The less capable a parent felt of helping their kid through home school, the more likely that parent was to meet qualifications of moderate or severe depression.

The tight connections between parent and kid well-being made Christine Limbers, a psychologist at Baylor University, wonder what exercise, a well-known stress reliever, could do for mothers during the pandemic. Limbers and her colleagues surveyed moms working from home in the spring of 2020 — when a vast majority of respondents said their kids’ daycare was closed and that they did a majority of the parental work. Moms who regularly fit moderately intense activity into their schedules, they found, were less likely to feel like parenting stress was interfering with the rest of their life.

Of course, multitasking work and childrearing from home during the pandemic can leave families — and moms — without the time for a run or yoga class. Surveys have found that on average, people working from home during the pandemic are exercising less than before, and that even before the global health crisis, working moms often feel guilty for taking time to squeeze in a workout, Limbers says. But her research pointed out that mothers taking time to address their needs could improve every relationship in a household. “This has implications for the whole family,” she says, “and not just the individual who’s engaging in exercise.”

Ideally, the 2020 pivot to work-from-home means remote work will extend beyond the pandemic. Catherine thinks that knowing remote work is possible might encourage more companies to hire people with disabilities — in 2020, the unemployment rate for those with disabilities was 12.6 percent but 7.9 percent for those without disabilities. If any jobs stay entirely remote, some people might have the opportunity to choose not to disclose their disability and relieve themselves of facing workplace or hiring discrimination altogether.

Generally, the employees that Allen surveys want a hybrid office and home model in the future. “People can, perhaps, quickly develop skills or try out a new situation, and that changes their preference,” she says. And if the goal is to have people working in set-ups that fit them best, then maybe remote work will stick around post-pandemic, especially if it comes with the freedom to see friends.


This article was originally published on on discovermagazine.com 

VIDEO: Breaking Down COVID Barriers for People with Disabilities



March 21, 2021 (New York, NY) – Employment has been a chronic issue for the disabled in New York. Only 35% of disabled people were employed pre-pandemic.

Since COVID hit, it is estimated that half have lost their jobs, and more have had their hours cut.  30% of the city’s disabled live in poverty.

Carol Glazer is the President of the National Organization on Disabilities, a group that advocates for the working disabled. She joined In Focus to talk about the reasons why unemployment has hit this community so hard: they often work in low-paying, low-skilled jobs and are, as she says, the last to be hired and the first to be let go in difficult financial times.

She also spoke to the discrimination that often stands in the way of the disabled and jobs, and why the pandemic must show employers that working remotely, something advocates for the disabled have been asking for in order to bring more of them into the workforce, is actually possible for the long term.


Originally published by Spectrum NY1.