Having just celebrated the 26th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, those of us in the disability community can justifiably and proudly say “We’ve come a long way, baby!” The signature slogan of the women’s rights movement – “You’ve come a long way, baby,” nearly 50 years ago has become relevant once again.
Both national parties, Republican and Democratic, have adopted party platforms that recognize the civil rights of people with disabilities. They both recognize and affirm the value of work for people with disabilities, and support the principles of Employment First.
This is extraordinary. In this year of extreme partisanship, the two parties agree on almost nothing – except this issue, our issue. Why? America understands that people with disabilities have tremendous abilities. America understands that everyone who can and wants to work should be allowed to work at jobs where they earn competitive wages. America understands that people with disabilities should have jobs where they are integrated, not separated, from their colleagues that don’t have disabilities.
This is also important because America understands that people with disabilities are exceptional employees. Research shows that employees with disabilities have fewer absences, stay with their employers longer, and work harder than their non-disabled counterparts.
The United States has a well-documented workforce shortage crisis. While there is plenty of talk about the need to create more, well-paying jobs, on any given day in Pennsylvania there are about 200,000 job vacancies. Employers aren’t able to meet the needs of their customers. That affects the ability of our economy to grow as it should. This is an all hands on deck moment where everyone who can work is needed regardless of disability. The focus is switching to a person’s abilities. As a person with disabilities, I say that it’s about time.
America now understands that people with disabilities have the same rights people who do not have disabilities. Ensuring that all individuals with disabilities are given the opportunity to work is a civil rights issue. That’s what America is all about.
The #IWantToWork campaign thanks and applauds the Democrat National Committee and the Republican National Committee for putting Employment First into their presidential election platforms.
Yes, we’ve come a long way, baby!
This year’s presidential election is extremely for people with disabilities, who have often been unable to register or take advantage of their right to vote. The #IWantToWork campaign is excited to become a part of this year’s election process. We aren’t taking sides, but doing everything we can to encourage individuals with disabilities to register to vote. And then, to actually vote. Learn more or register to vote here: votespa.com
By: Dr. Josie Badger
#IWantToWork Campaign Manager