Sunday, January 02, 2005

About this Blog

I work for an organization that offers job placement, training, and customizing of employment for people with significant disabilities and other job challenges. I created this blog to promote awareness, public education, and discussion about the importance of productive employment and community integration in the lives of people with disabilities.
Most Americans don’t realize that people with disabilities are the single largest minority population in the United States. The United States Bureau of Census and Statistics reports that 54 million people are living with some level of disability in our country. Even more amazing, the United Nations now estimates there a half-billion people with disabilities throughout the world!
The personal, social, and economic impacts of living with a disability are simply staggering. Many research studies have closely examined quality of life factors for people with disabilities in comparison to their American peers. Virtually all studies validate the existence of wide gaps in almost every important quality of life measure. For example, people with significant disabilities are far more likely to be living in poverty. They are much more likely to be unemployed, underemployed, or homeless. And people with significant disabilities are more likely to have difficulties accessing a quality education, affordable housing, adequate health care, child care, recreation and leisure, and public transportation.
As a general rule, disability is a key factor in poverty and dependency on others. In other parts of the world, children and adults with disabilities do not enjoy the same quality of life benefits as their peers. Here in the United States, most people with significant disabilities are financially dependent on some form of government assistance or welfare for a majority of their lives.
To illustrate this point, a recent Louis Harris/National Organization on Disability Poll reports that 34% of adults with disabilities live in households earning less than $15,000 as compared to 12% of people without disabilities. Also, only 32% of people with significant disabilities between the ages of 18-64 are employed in contrast to 81% of all Americans. Further, people with disabilities who have jobs are more likely to report job dissatisfaction and underemployment in low paying jobs than other Americans. (Louis Harris/NOD Poll, 2001). This wide disparity between the Have’s and Have Not’s is significant and unacceptable to most fair-minded people. And what a waste of human potential!
As a society of diverse people, Americans need to accelerate the idea that social and economic justice is possible. The inclusion of all people with disabilities into every aspect of community living such as education, employment, housing, leisure and recreation, and civic participation is within the reach of most people with disabilities. The scope and dimensions of this task demand improvements in a number of public policies. And more importantly, in public attitudes. Social and economic change is possible if we are willing to move ahead and share a new vision.
What if we lived in world where disabilities become possibilities?
Don Lavin

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