JEVS is a proud participant of the Disability Pride parade and celebration held each year in Philadelphia.
The 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides JEVS Human Services with the opportunity to reflect on our responsibility to protect and advance the rights of people with disabilities, and to reiterate our commitment to advocating for the work that still needs to be done.
Signed into law in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush, the ADA was a landmark civil rights law that affirmed the inherent dignity of every person, regardless of disability. The ADA grants civil rights protections to people with disabilities in employment, government services, public accommodations, telecommunications, and provisions like transportation. It also prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life.
JEVS has a long history of working to expand opportunities for people with disabilities and to that end provides an array of programs that demonstrate this commitment, including Community Supports & Adult Residential programs, options for Long-Term Supports & In-Home Care, and Employment Programs for People with Disabilities.
Beyond programming, we are proud of our advocacy efforts in this area. We carefully monitor state and federal legislation and work to shape public policy on behalf of people with disabilities.
This year marks not only the 30th anniversary of the ADA, but also the 75th observance of NDEAM, National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Each October, NDEAM celebrates America’s workers with disabilities and reminds employers of the importance of inclusive hiring practices. This month and every month, JEVS is committed to raising awareness about disability employment issues and honoring the many and varied contributions of people with disabilities.
While we take time to celebrate these anniversaries and the progress made, we know there is still much work to do. For example, a federal law still exists that allows employers to pay workers with disabilities less than minimum wage. In Pennsylvania, 5,712 people are currently receiving less than minimum wage, oftentimes much less, according to the Employment First Oversight Commission.
“The upcoming election is important for people with disabilities, particularly for employment issues,” said Julia Blackwell, Director of Operations for JEVS hireAbility, an affiliate agency of JEVS Human Services that offers customized employment programs to individuals living with a disability. “It’s an opportunity to pass Senator Casey’s Transformation to Competitive Employment Act, which would end the discriminatory law that allows employers to pay workers with disabilities less than minimum wage.”
Though much progress has been made since the advent of the ADA and NDEAM, JEVS remains committed to advocating for the work that still needs to be done, and to protecting and advancing the rights of people with disabilities.
“We will be able to celebrate the real victory when everyone has access to a career that leads to a meaningful life, full inclusion, and financial empowerment,” said Blackwell.