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Fehribach: What Labor Day means for people with disabilities

September 28, 2011
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Indiana Lawyer Commentary

By Greg Fehribach
 

fehribach-greg-mug.jpg Fehribach

Earlier this month, the National Organization on Disability recognized nine U.S. companies for their work in hiring and engaging people with disabilities. You can read more about why the NOD selected these companies as the “Fine Nine” at www.nod.org/news.

Two things really stood out about the NOD’s announcement of the Fine Nine, which was wisely timed to coincide with Labor Day, a holiday dedicated to the American worker. First, the NOD cited some alarming statistics from a 2010 Harris survey that they sponsored with the Kessler Foundation. The survey found that employment remains the biggest gap between people with and without disabilities. Among working-age people with disabilities, only 21 percent reported that they are employed full or part time, compared to 59 percent of people without disabilities. That’s a gap of 38 points.

The second was the headline in the article the United Press International published about the study. “Disabled workers always in recession,” accurately sums up the situation that people with disabilities – many of whom are educated and eager to work – face throughout their lives. Unfortunately, when people with disabilities are denied access to employment opportunities, they are forced to rely on government assistance. In today’s economic climate of austerity and frugality, particularly on the state and local levels, people with disabilities may lose these critical safety nets they have come to rely on.

So, where do we go from here? We must continue to encourage people with disabilities to get an education, and challenge them to use that education in non-traditional ways. We must continue to educate businesses about the potential for people with disabilities to help boost their bottom line. We must continue an open and candid dialogue, especially as baby boomers reach retirement age – every day.•

__________

An attorney with a disability who uses an electric wheelchair as a mobility aid device, Gregory S. Fehribach is a leading consultant on accessible design. This column was originally published on Fehribach’s blog, which can be found at www.thefehribachgroup.com. Opinions expressed in this column are the author’s.

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  1. Major social engineering imposed by judicial order well in advance of democratic change, has been the story of the whole post ww2 period. Contraception, desegregation, abortion, gay marriage: all rammed down the throats of Americans who didn't vote to change existing laws on any such thing, by the unelected lifetime tenure Supreme court heirarchs. Maybe people came to accept those things once imposed upon them, but, that's accommodation not acceptance; and surely not democracy. So let's quit lying to the kids telling them this is a democracy. Some sort of oligarchy, but no democracy that's for sure, and it never was. A bourgeois republic from day one.

  2. JD Massur, yes, brings to mind a similar stand at a Texas Mission in 1836. Or Vladivostok in 1918. As you seemingly gloat, to the victors go the spoils ... let the looting begin, right?

  3. I always wondered why high fence deer hunting was frowned upon? I guess you need to keep the population steady. If you don't, no one can enjoy hunting! Thanks for the post! Fence

  4. Whether you support "gay marriage" or not is not the issue. The issue is whether the SCOTUS can extract from an unmentionable somewhere the notion that the Constitution forbids government "interference" in the "right" to marry. Just imagine time-traveling to Philadelphia in 1787. Ask James Madison if the document he and his fellows just wrote allowed him- or forbade government to "interfere" with- his "right" to marry George Washington? He would have immediately- and justly- summoned the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw your sorry self out into the street. Far from being a day of liberation, this is a day of capitulation by the Rule of Law to the Rule of What's Happening Now.

  5. With today's ruling, AG Zoeller's arguments in the cases of Obamacare and Same-sex Marriage can be relegated to the ash heap of history. 0-fer

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