The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law 22 years ago.  Great strides have been made – buses and buildings are now accessible, the disabled have employment protections- but more still needs to be done. In this time of economic struggle, the disabled continue to be hit  hard :

  • More than one-half of Americans with any disability are unemployed and more than 70 percent with significant disabilities are unemployed;
  • During the recent recession the non-disability work force shrank 2 percent, while the number of working disabled fell over 10 percent; and
  • Only 5 percent of the nearly 2.5 million people employed by the Federal Government in 2010 were individuals with disabilities.

However, all news is not grim. In 2010, President Obama called on the Federal Government to hire an additional 100,000 workers with disabilities by 2015 (Executive Order 13548).  The Labor Department has issued a proposed ruling calling on federal contractors to make people with disabilities at least 7 percent of their work force. Additionally, private companies like Walgreens are setting goals of hiring individuals with disabilities and persuading other companies to do the same. (Walgreens has hired 1000 people with disabilities in the past four years.)

As Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat who was elected chairman of the National Governors Association said last week,  “…It doesn’t matter whether you were born with additional challenges to face or — in the case of our wounded veterans for example – acquired them later in life. What matters is what you have to offer.”