By Rebecca R. Hastings, SPHR
“Many of our fellow citizens with disabilities are unemployed. … They want to work, and they can work,” said President George H.W. Bush when he signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law on July 26, 1990.
Nearly 20 years later, President Barack Obama said in a Sept. 30, 2009, National Disability Employment Awareness Month proclamation, “We must seek to provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Only then can Americans with disabilities achieve full participation in the workforce and reach the height of their ambition.”
Yet for some the dream of meaningful employment remains as elusive in 2010 as it was in 1990. And there is some evidence that the ADA might have made things worse.
“Analysts have noted a decline in the employment rate of people with disabilities in recent years, and some evaluations of the ADA indicate that, rather than increasing employment, the Act may have reduced employment for those with disabilities,” noted the November 2008 edition of the Monthly Labor Review published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
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