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Join us in remembering the significance of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). ABLE Tech, a Sponsored Program in the Department of Wellness, provides services to Oklahomans with disabilities to improve access to education, employment, home, and community. For nearly one out of five individuals, disability is just a part of who they are. It is critical that individuals with disabilities are afforded the same opportunities to improve health, wellness, education, and employment that others have. The ADA is a civil rights law signed by George H.W. Bush in 1990. While the ADA has brought about significant improvements such as universally designed curb cuts and people first language, there are still improvements needed such as increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The unemployment rate for Oklahomans with disabilities is 75% as compared to 35.8% of individuals without disabilities. Programs such as Oklahoma ABLE Tech, the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, higher education institutions, and CareerTech can help prepare individuals with disabilities with the needed skills to find employment. For more information about the history of the ADA and the countdown to the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26, 2015, explore the ADA Anniversary Tool Kit at www.adaanniversary.org.
5.28.15 Don't let Barham's dream of disability rights die
By Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, RespectAbilityUsa.com
Frank Barham, a jazz musician who grew up in Durham, was killed in Georgia last week while raising awareness about the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Barham, who had been a wheelchair user since a car accident in 1980, was making a 300-mile journey by wheelchair to draw attention to the importance of access and opportunities for people with disabilities. Just 30 miles short of the goal, Barham and the van following him to support and document his journey were hit by a tractor-trailer. Margaret Kargbo, Barham's PR person and friend, was driving the van and also was killed. Another friend and supporter, Carrie Johnson, is still in the hospital. The driver of the truck is being held.
Like Barham, I was raised in Durham. Around the same time as Barham's original accident, I, too, was crushed by a car that left me a wheelchair user. Luckily for me, however, my situation has a far happier ending. With surgeries, therapies and good luck, my wheelchair use was only temporary. But as it was pre-ADA, I quickly discovered I could not get out of my apartment or into buildings without someone first lifting me up and carrying me to a place and then bringing the wheelchair. It was both highly inconvenient and humiliating. The ADA changed all that for people who use wheelchairs, as well as for people who need electronic on-ramps to technology.
What the ADA didn't change was attitudes about people with disabilities. Stigma and low expectations still hold back people with disabilities today.
In North Carolina today only 30 percent of working-age people with disabilities are employed. This compares with 73.5 percent of people without disabilities. That's a much larger gap today than pre-ADA. There are 658,900 working-age people with disabilities in North Carolina – and two-thirds of them don't have jobs to go to in the morning. That means no paycheck, no friends from work, no ability to contribute to the economic welfare of our nation. Fully 113,600 of them are living on government benefits, which costs taxpayers close to $5 billion a year. Yet vocational rehabilitation in North Carolina enabled only 7,320 people with disabilities in 2012 to get jobs. Thirty percent of North Carolinians with disabilities live in poverty, compared with 15 percent of those without disabilities. Fully 36,600 young people ages 16-20 with disabilities in North Carolina are transitioning into what should be the workforce. That includes teenagers with Down syndrome, autism, vision and hearing disabilities, mental health challenges, intellectual disabilities caused from lead paint poisoning and other issues.
Without adequate access to assistive technology or proven programs like Project SEARCH, Bridges to Work and others, all too often these young people may simply move from school to the couch of their parents' homes. For tens of thousands, if nothing is done, they will basically stay on the sidelines, living on government benefits, until their parents die. Then, in many cases, they will move to the home of one of their siblings, where the poverty and powerlessness will continue.
We can and must do better for people with disabilities. Most people with disabilities also have or can develop wonderful talents. People like Frank Barham, Stephen Hawking and the newly elected governor of Texas Greg Abbot are all mobility impaired but are also extremely talented. Walgreens, Lowes and other companies hire people with disabilities and find the stigmas are wrong. They see that people with disabilities can be exceptionally talented and loyal employees. It's a win-win formula for employers, taxpayers and people with disabilities alike. Frank Barham, a UNC graduate, died raising awareness about these issues. Let his dream of equality and opportunities not die with him.
Celebrate and Share the ADA
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, state and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications. To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability or have a relationship or association with an individual with a disability. An individual with a disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.
Understanding the Laws
Law Fact Sheets:
The purpose of this manual is to provide state and local organizations assistance in developing programs and procedures that will help guide the day-to-day operations of DME reuse programs. This manual may be customized to fit the specific needs and policies of any program.
This manual was created with information from the Pass It On Center, a national collaboration for reutilization and coordination of assistive technology based in Atlanta, GA. For tips and resources from representatives of the national reuse community, visit Pass It On Center’s online Knowledge Base at www.passitoncenter.org.
Tips and resources to assist individuals, organizations, and employers in creating emergency preparedness plans that take into account the needs of people with disabilities.