July 24, 2020
SCOPE AND PURPOSE: As the nation celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), NCD reflects on the monumental social impact of this landmark civil rights legislation since its enactment on July 26, 1990. As a result of the ADA, people with disabilities enjoy protections that have allowed them to enter the competitive workforce, like protection from discrimination based on disability and the requirement of reasonable accommodations.
In this year’s statutorily required progress report, NCD acknowledges the achievements of the ADA over the past three decades but focuses attention on the persistent barriers that must be addressed in order to ensure the economic inclusion of people with disabilities into mainstream society in the future.
While significant progress has been achieved over 30 years, NCD found labor statistics continue to show extreme disparities between labor force participation rates of people with and without disabilities.
The report focuses heavily on the following areas:
- Services for Transitioning Youth – NCD found disparities between skills training and employment-related services available to transition-age youth with and without disabilities. Students without disabilities were more likely to receive opportunities in job shadowing, internships, part-time jobs, and volunteer work, which prepare them to enter the workforce successfully. To the contrary, students with disabilities were less likely to have these opportunities, putting them further behind their peers.
- Public Benefits – NCD identified employment disincentives tied to federal programs and other benefits which perpetuate a “poverty trap,” in which people with disabilities must choose to enter the workforce and risk losing the healthcare they need to live, or maintain their healthcare but remain impoverished indefinitely, due to the asset limitations imposed by federal means-tested programs.
- Support of Entrepreneurship – Finally, the report identifies opportunities to expand employment for people with disabilities in the future by analyzing programs available under the Small Business Administration (“SBA”). With nearly ninety-seven percent of businesses being classified as “small,” NCD found that this underutilized federal agency has the potential to engage with the broadest number of businesses across the country that could benefit workers with disabilities.
NCD urges policymakers to address these barriers by concluding the report with recommendations to the President, Congress, and the Administration.