By Bob Allen
While restrooms, buildings and parking lots are more accessible for people with disabilities than a generation ago, their employment opportunities are just as limited as they were when President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, says American Baptists’ representative on a faith-outreach program of the American Association of People with Disabilities.
According to the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition, two thirds of Americans with disabilities are unemployed or underemployed. Curtis Ramsey-Lucas, managing director of resource development for American Baptist Home Mission Societies, described economic opportunity as “the unfulfilled promise of the ADA.”
American Baptist Home Mission Societies and other members of the Interfaith Disability Advocacy Coalition are observing National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Two new resources are available to churches.
A bulletin insert seeks to build awareness at the congregational level, while a suggested next steps resource offers tips for developing a plan to offer support for people in their congregation who are out of work, encourage church members who are employers to hire people with disabilities and work with outside agencies to help people with disabilities find employment.
“Congregations are uniquely situated in their communities to engage in this important work, including encouraging employers in their pews to hire qualified people with disabilities,” said Ramsey-Lucas.