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Equal Chance for People with Disabilities to Achieve and Thrive

  • Published: 2012-05-23 : Author: Wendy Taormina-Weiss
  • Synopsis: How can America proceed in regards to ensuring that People with Disabilities have equal chance to achieve their best and thrive.

Main Document

The job of the President, according to Mr. Obama, is in part to ensure that everyone has an equal chance in America. He is absolutely correct. Each and every single person in this nation deserves the opportunity to achieve their best and thrive.

For People with Disabilities, the President's statement takes on a whole new meaning. Such a statement cannot be taken lightly, it represents an entirely positive and supportive demeanor on his part. President Obama, in a statement aimed directly at People with Disabilities in America, previously said that he, 'has our backs.'

Considering the President's demeanor towards People with Disabilities, as well as Americans in general, how can America as a nation proceed in regards to ensuring that People with Disabilities have an equal chance to achieve our best and thrive in this nation? How might this nation work to include People with Disabilities in the greater prosperity others experience? Are there steps that can be taken to make society a more flexible place for us so we can achieve and thrive

Employers, People with Disabilities, and Disability Organizations

The Americans with Disabilities Act has been law in this nation for more than 20 years, yet employers in this nation continue to struggle with hiring employees who experience forms of disabilities. Employers continue to find themselves wondering how to accommodate employees with disabilities, where to find information on how to do so, and how to keep employees who experience forms of disabilities employed. In America, employment is the doorway to income in many instances, whether it is through an employer or through self-employment.

A central organization, governmental information source, or location employers in America can go to in order to receive information about everything involving employment and People with Disabilities is one way this nation can work to ensure we have the opportunity to achieve and thrive to the same levels as everyone else in this nation. Such a central information source is greatly needed. Yet how might such an information source be achieved

A National Employer Disability Information Resource

In America today, there are a number of Disability Organizations who are very aware of the employment needs of People with Disabilities, as well as the challenges faced by both employers and the programs we rely on when we are unable to work. Disability Organizations can receive funding from a number of sources in order to pool together and work through available types of technologies to create a central source of information for employers. For example; Disability Organizations who desire to participate in a National Employer Disability Information Resource might receive funding from:

Information from a National Employer Disability Information Resource could be distributed through various means. First and foremost, employers would have the ability to simply pick up a telephone and call a 1-800 number in order to receive information regarding the hiring, accommodation, and retention of People with Disabilities. No matter where in America a particular Disability Organization is located, the organization can answer the 1-800 number and answer an employer's questions in accordance with the ADA and other applicable laws and suggestions.

Another means of disseminating information through a National Employer Disability Information Resource could be through printed media. Items such as booklets with FAQ's and answers to commonly asked questions could be distributed to employers upon request. Printed items that can be placed on desktops or posted on walls or bulletin boards in workplaces can assist employers to understand ways to accommodate employees with disabilities, as well as a person's fellow employees.

Information pertinent to the employment of People with Disabilities can also be distributed through a central website, sent to iPads, phones, desktop and laptop computers, and other electronic items. Disability Organizations can work to develop the appropriate forms of media to distribute, contributing them to a National Employer Disability Information Resource. With such a National Resource available, awareness of the ways to hire, accommodate, and retain employees with disabilities would grow rapidly.

Challenges in the Way of the President's Vision

The question of whether or not employment and income is enough to consider a person's life as one of achievement and thriving is clearly pointless; it isn't. For a person to achieve and thrive, they must have access to society as a whole; they must have the ability to freely move within their own community and society at large. A person must have the ability to speak freely, communicate with others, participate with others, and do so without fear of prejudice, hate, bigotry, or violence.

Housing in America is a very real issue for People with Disabilities; much of it is not accessible to us. Buildings that are older than the years covered by the ADA are everywhere and are not being considered for renovation or modification from an accessibility perspective. A job is wonderful, but only if you have a place to live that is accessible to you. Many people with disabilities struggle with housing on a daily basis.

A visit to a health care professional continues to be the wrong, 'status-quo,' for many people who experience forms of disabilities in America. It is difficult to interact with a doctor, nurse, or other health care professional when you cannot hear them; for example, and an interpreter is unavailable or must be arranged for in advance. It is also difficult to interact with a health care provider whose exam room is not suited to the provision of care for persons who use wheelchairs or other types of adaptive equipment, or for persons who experience a variety of disabilities. Health care providers; many of whom have advanced degrees, are often times ignorant of disability health issues.

A job that is accessible, accommodates the employee with a disability, and with an employer whose intentions are to retain the employee is truly a wonderful thing - at least if you can get to and from the job. Transportation in America is a rough issue for many people with disabilities. Everything from cutbacks in paratransit services to entire bus routes; inaccessible buses and taxis to a lack of transportation entirely plague many people with disabilities. When you can't get to the job, there really isn't a point in having one.

More and more streets in America are putting in sidewalks with ramps on the corners, something that is very greatly appreciated. More stores are becoming aware of the need to make their property accessible to people who experience forms of disabilities, something that is also appreciated. Unfortunately, the infrastructure of America is not at the point where we can freely move about society without being concerned about accessibility - there is much more to be done. People with Disabilities need to have the ability to move around in society freely, without concerns regarding accessibility. We need to be able to enter stores and shop; these things are needed if we are to achieve and thrive in this nation.

The President's vision of providing everyone in America with an equal chance to achieve and thrive in our nation is both noble and worthy. Reaching for his vision requires an immense sense of inclusion and involved restructuring on the parts of every American in regards to People with Disabilities. The President's vision is one that can be achieved; it is not so large it is beyond the capabilities of the people of this nation to accomplish. We have a solid base of efforts that have been underway for decades. It is time to continue building on the immense efforts that have taken place in this nation to include People with Disabilities in American society, and find us achieving and thriving.

Can We Be One Nation

"All citizens should have an equal chance to succeed. That means providing people with low cost healthcare to remain healthy, and a good education or training to secure work."

Housing Issues for People with Disabilities

"Being part of the community and living as independently as possible are among the most important values and goals shared by people with disabilities, their families, and advocates. A home of one's own - either rented or owned - is the cornerstone of independence for people with disabilities. However, across the nation, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), and other disabilities, face a severe housing crisis."

Strategic Plan - Disabilities & Health Care Access

"Access to quality and timely health care is critical for everyone. For people with disabilities who may have complex health conditions it is even more important."

Disability Rights Advocates Call for Transportation Equity

"At a recent briefing on Capitol Hill, civil rights, human rights, and disability rights advocates discussed how federal transportation policies can be improved to meet the needs of one of the nation's most transit-dependent communities: people with disabilities."

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