For immediate release
Date: July 26, 2018
Contact: Office of Government, Policy and Public Relations
Bill Thoennes at (303) 318-8004 or Cher Haavind at (303) 318-8003
Fax: (303) 318-8070
Department of Labor and Employment cites anniversary as a time to also focus on the work ahead
Gov. John Hickenlooper has signed a Proclamation recognizing the importance of the Americans With Disabilities Act that was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. The proclamation honors the historic landmark legislation that that has profoundly changed the American landscape, making our country stronger and more inclusive. The 28th anniversary of the ADA is an appropriate time to assess the progress that has been made and the work that still lies ahead in increasing the employment of people with disabilities.
Working with its community partners, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) plays a critical role helping Coloradans with disabilities find meaningful employment while educating employers on the value of hiring workers with disabilities.
In 2017 and to date in 2018, more than 28,140 individuals received services from the Division. Some were helped in strengthening basic employability skills such as résumé writing and job interviewing. Others received assistance in designing long-range strategies tailored to their individualized needs.
According to a March 2018 report by RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to the empowerment of individuals with disabilities, for the first time in decades, “people with disabilities are gaining jobs, success, and independence.” The report adds that “according to new disability data, 14,846 more people with disabilities entered Colorado’s workforce in 2016. People with disabilities have previously been left out of periods of economic growth. Today’s workforce system is better aligned to enable people with disabilities to succeed.”
Although Colorado is seeing good progress, meaningful employment opportunities remain elusive for too many. The 2016 American Community Survey reveals that 42.7 percent of disabled Coloradans from 18 to 64 years old are employed compared to 79.7 percent of those without disabilities. It’s a 37 percentage point employment gap in the labor force and, as the governor noted in the proclamation, “there is more work to be done to make our state stronger and more inclusive for everyone.”
“People with disabilities are a strong and powerful force,” says Colorado Department of Labor and Employment Executive Director Sam Walker. “Approximately 1 in every 11 Coloradans has a disability. These individuals – more than 149,000 – bring unique skills, abilities, and talents to the workplace. The Americans with Disabilities Act enshrines their rights.”
“On the anniversary of the ADA, we renew our commitment to everything this landmark law stands for,” Walker says. “The finish line of the Americans With Disabilities Act is an America with truly inclusive workplaces, a nation where all workers are celebrated for their talents and abilities.”