A unique way to celebrate the 24th anniversary of the ADA

I started losing my eyesight in 1984, when I was 25 years old. At first I didn’t use a white cane or a guide dog. I quit driving or riding my bike, but I could still see well enough to walk to work. I had a job at University of Illinois in Champaign, and most of my day was spent counseling college students on study abroad options — I could have done that with my eyes closed.

As my eyesight got worse, though, I started making mistakes in the office. I still remember spilling grounds all over the floor on my way to make the morning coffee. I had to sit close to my computer screen to see the words. I ran into tabletops. At one point my boss took me aside and told me I wouldn’t be going to the annual convention with my colleagues. “You’ll embarrass the office,” she said. Months later, my contract was terminated. I had nowhere to turn. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) wasn’t passed until five years later.

Kyle, a 2010 Easter Seals Child representative, all grown up and working

We’ve come a long way since George H. W. Bush signed the ADA into law in 1990. This weekend we celebrate the 24th anniversary of the ADA, and I’m happy to know that so many more people are on board now with the idea that those of us with disabilities can — and should — be employed. Still, the unemployment rate among adults with disabilities is double than what it is for those without disabilities. Only two in 10 people with disabilities are in the labor force compared to seven in 10 individuals without disabilities. So many people with disabilities want to work and can contribute but find it difficult to overcome attitudinal barriers and other challenges.

We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. That’s where Easter Seals workforce development services come in. We provide an individualized approach to assisting persons with disabilities and other needs to make smart choices and find employment. Contact Easter Seals to learn more about Easter Seals Workforce Development services in your area, and if you run a business or are interviewing candidates for a position at your job, hey, here’s an idea of how to celebrate the 24th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act: consider hiring someone who has a disability. We’re a resourceful bunch.


Comments may not reflect Easterseals' policies or positions.

  1. Shirley Sexton Says:

    I was happy to hire you Beth! You’re still rockin’ it! Love ya.