The theme for this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which is celebrated throughout the month of October, is “Increasing Access and Opportunity.” The word “increasing” is important as it was just 30 years ago that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law, and there is a lot more work to do.

As we celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month and 30 years of the ADA, educated yourself on the laws, progress and what still needs to be done.

What is the ADA?

The ADA recognizes that people with disabilities have the same rights as people without disabilities to pursue the quality of life that they want. It prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life — and that includes jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.

Where do we stand in 2020?

2020 itself presented itself with many challenges and opportunities for the disabilities community.

  • No, or limited, access to normal therapies and services from school presented many challenges;
  • Remote work opened up doors to some people with disabilities who may have been facing transportation barriers; and
  • Public and private places were limited to the general public.

Many people with disabilities were at a higher risk with COVID-19. Further, people with disabilities have lost their jobs at a higher rate than their peers without disabilities during the pandemic. SHRM shares that, “Since March, 1 in 5 workers with disabilities have been dismissed from employment, compared with 1 in 7 in the general population, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

Even though the ADA was signed 30 years ago, equal opportunities still don’t exist. Old ways of thinking, wrong information and conscious and unconscious biases are still creating barriers.

Increasing Access and Opportunity

The more you know, the more you can share and make conscious decisions to be more inclusive. Consider the resources below to educate yourself during National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

About the Author

Jessica Speziale serves as a corporate communications director at Voya Financial where she leads internal and external communications strategies, plans and tactics for HR. She has a wide range of corporate communications experience — from the external side of global rebranding, media releases, earnings reports, mergers and acquisitions, and digital publications, to the internal side of change management planning, executive support, internal social media platforms, employee engagement and branding, and human resources communications, to name a few areas. She also volunteers as the communications chair for the Tri-State National Diversity Council.

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