Governor Roy Cooper proclaimed Thursday, July 26 as Americans with Disabilities Act Day in North Carolina. The ADA provides civil rights protections assuring equal opportunity to businesses, employment, transportation, telecommunications, and state and local government programs and services on behalf of the more than 1.3 million North Carolinians living with one or more disabilities.
“We’ve made progress since this landmark legislation was signed into law 28 years ago, but we have more to do to assure equal and full participation in community life for North Carolinians living with disabilities,” Governor Cooper said.
More than 65 percent of the 720,000 working age people with disabilities in North Carolina are not employed, compared to nearly 76 percent employment for people without disabilities.
“I want all North Carolinians to live more abundant, purposeful lives, but individuals with disabilities often face barriers to these goals,” Governor Cooper said. “We must focus on helping North Carolinians with disabilities pursue opportunities for education and careers, and encourage employers to make our state a national model for diverse workplaces.”
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has spearheaded several efforts to support integrated, competitive employment for individuals with disabilities recently. DHHS hosted the nation’s first Health and Human Services Project SEARCH site, a collaboration with Wake Technical Community College that connects students with disabilities to internship placements within DHHS to provide on-the-job employment skills and experience. DHHS also collaborated with NC Council on Developmental Disabilities to launch the Everybody Works NC campaign last October to raise awareness about the untapped pool of talented people with disabilities who are qualified and ready to work.
“DHHS is committed to reducing barriers, changing perceptions and increasing full participation in work and community life for individuals with disabilities,” DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen said. “I am proud of the work our department is doing and know we can and will do more to build opportunities for North Carolinians with disabilities.”
Cohen said that through education, opportunity and training, individuals with disabilities can be better prepared for competitive employment, which can lead to better outcomes in many areas including stronger long-term financial security, better health and more independence.
DHHS offers training, programs and assistance that benefits individuals with disabilities through multiple divisions within the agency, including the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Services for the Blind and Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. DVRS helps train and connect individuals with disabilities with work.
Read the proclamation here.