Even with the ADA, Disability Employment Has A Long Way to Go

Grace W. Dow smiling, sitting at a table in a restaurantWe are happy to introduce a guest blogger today – Grace W. Dow. Grace is an advocate and a writer. Through her writing, Grace places a spotlight on various disability issues and perspectives as a person with cerebral palsy.

The 32nd anniversary of The Americans with Disabilities Act takes place on the 26th of this month. While this was a defining moment for the community, equality for disabled people in the United States still has a long way to go. Physical access to restaurants, stores, and schools is excellent. Because of the ADA, I attended local public schools when I was growing up. This meant that I could go to sporting events and other activities at school as well. I could watch my younger sibling’s sporting events because the gym was ADA compliant. However, physical accessibility is only one aspect of equality. Ableism and related attitudes hold us back more than you may think.

I’ve been looking for work for the past three years and have been unsuccessful. Too often, when employers find out that I have Cerebral Palsy, they are no longer interested in hiring me. Such discrimination is illegal according to the ADA, yet it still happens. Employers need to embrace having those with disabilities as a part of their workplaces. Ableism is the real reason why I am unemployed right now.

I’d love to see a day where more Americans with disabilities are employed in their communities alongside non-disabled people earning fair wages. Hiring people with disabilities makes sense from a business perspective as well. We are creative thinkers and excellent problem solvers because living with a disability often requires ingenuity. In addition, employees with disabilities are dedicated to their jobs. They routinely outperform their non-disabled peers in terms of the number of missed workdays, daily punctuality or adherence to a regular work schedule, and retention in their current positions.

Those with disabilities are also eager to work. According to research, having persons with disabilities in the workplace boosts staff morale, strengthens teamwork, and improves the quality and efficiency of other employees.

Hiring people with disabilities also makes financial sense. The organizations that have committed to changing their diversity policies to be more inclusive in recruiting, hiring, and retaining individuals with disabilities have experienced a positive impact on their bottom line, enhancing productivity, customer loyalty, and profitability.

A diverse, inclusive workplace is seen favorably by others. Companies that are socially conscious are more successful in today’s economy. Customers care about your business practices since they have a direct impact on their decision to buy. The vast majority of customers have higher opinions of businesses that employ a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce, including persons with disabilities on their teams and in their branding and marketing initiatives.

Americans with disabilities are also left behind in other ways. In recent years, America has come a long way in the fight for marriage equality. The Supreme Court determined in 2015 that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right in the United States. This was unquestionably a huge step forward in terms of marriage equality. However, many disabled people who rely on programs like Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are still unable to marry without having their benefits reduced or taken away entirely.

I am one of the many Americans who still can’t marry in the United States. I rely on Medicaid and SSI to survive because, without these programs, I’d be unable to live in my community. I dream of getting married in the future, but I won’t be able to unless these rules change.

While the Americans with Disabilities Act was a landmark piece of legislation, we still have so much work to do in the fight for true equality for disabled people in America.

Works Cited:

  • “All in: Easterseals Plan for Disability Equity.” Easterseals, Easterseals, https://www.easterseals.com/our-programs/employment-training/all-in/.
  • Liptak, Adam. “Supreme Court Ruling Makes Same-Sex Marriage a Right Nationwide.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 26 June 2015, www.nytimes.com/2015/06/27/us/supreme-court-same-sex-marriage.html.
  • Star, Eryn. “Marriage Equality Is Still Not a Reality: Disabled People and the Right to Marry.” Advocacy Monitor, National Council on Independent Living, 14 Nov. 2019, advocacymonitor.com/marriage-equality-is-still-not-a-reality-disabled-people-and-the-right-to-marry/.

 

Comments may not reflect Easterseals' policies or positions.


Please read our community guidelines when posting comments.


Leave a Reply