States Celebrate Two Key Disability Anniversaries in 2020

By Elise Gurney and Trent Patrick

This year marks two important anniversaries in our Nation’s efforts to facilitate the inclusion of people with disabilities in our workforce: the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed into law on July 26, 1990, and the 75th anniversary of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), which seeks to enhance awareness of disability employment issues and celebrate the contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. States have found various ways to commemorate these two occasions, including issuing proclamations, establishing disability awareness and mentoring days, hosting webinars and virtual events, and launching educational campaigns. Below are examples of how several states are celebrating, as well as general ideas for how state policymakers and other government officials can commemorate these landmark dates.

Alaska

The state of Alaska celebrated the 30th anniversary of the ADA through a week-long virtual event entitled 2020 Statewide Disability Pride.”

The event honored the lives of disability advocates who worked to make the ADA a reality, and highlighted personal stories of Alaskans with disabilities who have been impacted by the ADA (here and here).

Additionally, Governor Mike Dunleavy signed executive proclamations declaring July 26, 2020 as the Americans with Disabilities Act Awareness Day in Alaska, and declaring October 4-10, 2020 as Alaska Employ People with Disabilities Week. The proclamations reinforce Alaska’s commitment to inclusion and equal opportunities for people with disabilities.

Kentucky

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear signed an executive order on June 29, 2020 to promote inclusive hiring practices of people with disabilities.

The order seeks to promote competitive, integrated employment for people with disabilities through a commitment to increasing employment opportunities throughout the state, which will be carried out by the state’s Employment First Council.

Michigan

Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive proclamation declaring October 2020 as Investing in Abilities Month in Michigan. The proclamation recognizes the efforts that various public and private disability organizations have made toward “support[ing] recognition of the abilities of all citizens.” 

The proclamation also introduces events and activities that will continue to promote the employment of people with disabilities in the state. In addition, Governor Whitmer signed a proclamation in July 2020 recognizing the 30th anniversary of the ADA and declaring Michigan’s commitment to make the state inclusive to everyone.

Pennsylvania

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the ADA, the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health launched a public education campaign on health equity for people with disabilities.

The campaign features a Disability-Competent Care Model, which seeks to empower people with disabilities to make their own choices about their health. On September 29, 2020, a resolution was introduced to recognize the month of October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month in Pennsylvania.

West Virginia

West Virginia celebrated the ADA’s 30th anniversary through a webinar and virtual event that featured people with disabilities. The webinar discussed the impacts of the ADA and its implications for the future, and was hosted by the Statewide Independent Living Council and various Independent Living centers in the state.

Celebration Ideas

The ADA and NDEAM anniversaries provide states an opportunity to re-affirm their commitments to accessibility, workplace accommodations, and equal opportunities for people with disabilities. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) suggests a variety of ways to celebrate, including: 

  • Signing proclamations to honor NDEAM and the ADA.
    • ODEP has provided templates to follow, which serve to affirm a city, county, or state’s commitment to creating “an inclusive community that increases access and opportunities to all, including individuals with disabilities.”
  • Signing an executive order establishing a time-limited task force to develop an action plan for expanding and improving state employment policy to make it more inclusive of people with disabilities.
    • The State Exchange on Employment & Disability  has created a draft of an executive order that states can use to launch State as Model Employer Programs (SAME), private sector engagement, and disability-owned businesses, which seek to enhance the employment of people with disabilities in the state.
    • Sample executive orders can be found under the “Sample Legislative Action” section on the CSG Disability Employment Policy Portfolio webpage.
  • Conducting social media campaigns.
    • Consider highlighting the PSA series and other content produced by The Campaign for Disability Employment, which “challenge misconceptions about the employment of people with disabilities and reinforce the roles we all play in fostering an inclusive workforce that benefits everyone.”
  • Participating in Disability Mentoring Day.
    • Various states and entities participate in Disability Mentoring Day, a large-scale effort that connects youth with disabilities to mentors and career exploration opportunities. Originally observed on the third Wednesday of each October, the event can be celebrated at any time (or even year-round).
  • Holding a Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day.
    • Legislative Disabilities Awareness Days provide an opportunity for state legislators to discuss disability rights and advance bills that improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities. The New York State Assembly offers one model to follow.

For state technical assistant and more information on the ADA and State as a Model Employer (SAME), please contact Dina Klimkina, Program Manager of the CSG Disability Employment Policy Team at dklimkina@csg.org

A poster for the National Disability Employment Awareness Month
Celebrating 30 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and 75 years of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).

Building Inclusive Apprenticeships: Upcoming Webinars Discuss Design and Funding Strategies

Elise Gurney

As states work to involve more youth with disabilities in the workforce, they are increasingly turning to work-based learning initiatives. Exposure to work-based learning – including internships, apprenticeships, and job shadowing – is one of the strongest predictors of eventual employment success for youth with disabilities, as it allows youth to develop hard and soft work skills in a hands-on setting. 

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30 Years of ADA: Webinar Series Reflects on Our Progress and Charts Out a Future for Disability Inclusion

Elise Gurney

July 26 marks the 30th anniversary of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which has transformed protections, access and opportunities for people with disabilities. The anniversary provides an occasion to both commemorate the ADA — to reflect on its significance and the progress we’ve made over the last three decades — and to map out an even more inclusive future.

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COVID-19 and the Workforce: Impacts on Workers with Disabilities

By Rachel Wright

Unemployment and Absence from Work

As the coronavirus pandemic temporarily curtailed many businesses’ in-person operations, layoffs and furloughs were quick to follow. Although the permanency of these layoffs is still unclear, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that job losses throughout the pandemic culminated in an unemployment rate of nearly 14.7% by the end of April. Of the positions lost, approximately 950,000 were previously held by workers with disabilities, putting the unemployment rate among these workers at 20%[1].

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Accessible Transportation and Workplace Technology Webinar, Commemorates the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

By Dean Farmer, The Council of State Governments

The Council of State Governments (CSG) will host a webinar on the importance of accessible transportation and workplace technology for workers with disabilities on Oct. 15, 2020, from noon to 1:30 p.m. (ET). In partnership with the State Exchange on Employment and Disability (SEED), this will be the fifth webinar in a CSG series commemorating the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

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POLICY BRIEF: COVID-19: FEDERAL DISABILITY-SPECIFIC AND OTHER RELATED GUIDANCE

Currently, state and local policymakers are adopting and implementing policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This policy brief summarizes guidance issued by federal government agencies that can assist in ensuring state and local policy aligns with our nation’s civil rights laws and other disability-related policies.

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Accessible Telework: Strategies for Developing Inclusive State Agency Programs

By Elise Gurney, The Council of State Governments

Telework has increased substantially as a result of COVID-19. According to research reported by the National Bureau of Economic Research, about half of all employed Americans now work from home, including 35% of workers who switched to remote work during the pandemic. In response, many employers — including state government departments and agencies — are developing or revising their telework policies and programs. As they do, it’s critical that telework be accessible and usable to all employees, including those with disabilities. Not only does this enable more employees to benefit from the flexibility, time and cost savings and health protections offered by telework, it ensures that agencies comply with civil rights laws and disability-related policies.

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POLICY BRIEF: COVID-19: FEDERAL DISABILITY-SPECIFIC AND OTHER RELATED GUIDANCE

The State Exchange on Employment and Disability (SEED), an initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), assists states in developing effective and inclusive workforce policies that promote disability employment. Recognizing that every state is unique, SEED offers policy options and resources that states can tailor to meet their individual needs and goals. To this end, SEED partners with leading intermediary organizations that serve as trusted sources of information to state and local policymakers.

Updated on June 18th, 2020

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Uber Expands Paratransit Options for Eight Cities

By Sydney Geiger | Thursday, April 18, 2019 at 10:52 AM

Boston, Chicago, D.C., Las Vegas, Toronto, San Francisco and New York City are improving their paratransit options through an Uber initiative. Since Uber’s launch, the company has invested in ensuring that its features and technologies are accessible to all users. In November 2018, Uber, a CSG Associate member, announced plans to widely expand paratransit for individuals using wheelchairs and other motorized mobilization devices.

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Washington Pilot Program Helps Individuals with Disabilities Return to the Workforce

ByTrent Patrick | Monday, September 9, 2019 at 03:59 PM

The focus on helping individuals with mid-career disabilities stay in or return to the workforce is emerging in the economic and health sectors of the public policy arena. This focus comes from the drive to retain good employees in the workforce, which benefits state governments, employees and employers.

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