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National Conference of State Legislatures -- Celebrating 25 Years of the ADA and Working to Increase Employment

July 22, 2015
Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

The nation is observing the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Signed into law on July 26, 1990, the ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in areas such as public accommodations, transportation, telecommunications, employment and other aspects of societal integration.

While the ADA was a big step toward equal opportunity for people with disabilities, a significant gap remains when it comes to disability and equality in the area of employment.

Labor force participation for people with disabilities is 20 percent as compared to 69.1 percent for people without disabilities, as of June 2015.

State legislatures are working to increase employment of people with disabilities in both the public and private sectors. Efforts have been underway for many years to implement policies that prioritize employment as the first and preferred option for working-age people with disabilities and for states to become model employers of people with disabilities. A recent [National Conference of State Legislatures] NCSL LegisBrief (PDF 2 pages) summarizes these state approaches.

A new resource is available for states that are continuing to develop policy in the area of disability employment. The National Employer Policy, Research and Technical Assistance Center for Employers on the Employment of People with Disabilities (Employer TA Center) has created a customizable state resource package intended to help guide state legislators, governors policy staff, executive agency officials and other interested parties in evaluating state policy related to employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. Its features include:

  • An optional “Joint Resolution or Executive Order for States as Model Employers of People with Disabilities” designed to serve as a possible framework.
  • A sample “Dear Colleague” letter for those seeking additional support from colleagues. The document is designed to be customized to address a particular states needs and specific organizational protocols.

This policy package is one of several tools featured on the website designed to provide more information about state government initiatives to increase the employment of people with disabilities within the state workforce or its private sector.

NCSL is working with the U.S. Department of Labor Office of [Disability] Employment Policy (ODEP) to provide interested states information about disabilities employment policy options.

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