ADA Opens Door to Inclusive Society

by Kathy Martinez on July 26, 2011 · 2 comments

Kathy Martinez, Assistant Secretary of the Office of Disability Employment Policy.

Today marks the 21st anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  This landmark legislation ensures a more inclusive America – one where every person has the right to fully participate in society, including employment.

Today and every day, people with disabilities add significant value to America’s workplaces and economy.  Their skills and talents benefit businesses of all sizes and in all industries. 

You may not know that I am blind.   From day one, my parents invested belief in my capability. They fought for me to attend our local public school and be woven into the fabric of our community.  They instilled in me a love of learning and expectation of work.  And as I got older, I came to understand the value of their outlay. I started reinvesting the dividends in myself through education and advocacy – and work.  Work is fundamental to my life.

I’m proud to say that the spirit of the ADA underpins all of the work that we do in the Office of Disability Employment Policy, from technical assistance, to education and policy development.  We understand that the problems and solutions applicable to the employment success of workers with disabilities impact the entire workforce.  This includes aging workers, injured workers, at-risk youth, women, people of color, foreign labor, and unemployed and underemployed workers.

When a workplace is welcoming of people with disabilities, employers gain needed skills and varied perspectives on how to confront challenges and achieve organizational success.  Individuals with disabilities gain dignity, respect and self-determination.  And, most important, society as a whole benefits from a more inclusive culture where every person is valued for his or her contributions.

Each of us can become a link for inclusion of individuals with disabilities on an individual, community or employer level.  Start by reading our “What Can You Do?” outreach toolkit that promotes positive employment outcomes for people with disabilities in your business and community. 

For more information, visit ODEP’s newly re-designed website at http://www.dol.gov/odep/.

Kathy Martinez is Assistant Secretary of the U. S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 pam July 26, 2011 at 1:17 pm

whay cant all peole diagnosed with a mentl ilness be treated with respect/dignity, and get them all working and feeling better about being productive. just because there are people diagnosed doesnt mean we should isolate them does it? thank you for letting me voicemy opinion

2 Holli Papke November 30, 2011 at 10:08 am

It would be nice that those people who are physically and mentally ill have to be treated with respect. Don’t treat them like they handicap. And for those people that are physically incapacitated, they must not be ignore in the production industry and must be given a chance to work to any field that suits with their skills. I believe handicaps have their own and different skills and talents.

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