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

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 Opinions expressed in this column are the author’s.


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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues