This month, we celebrate the 33rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). National Disability Institute (NDI) is commemorating the passage of the ADA through its social media platforms. You can follow along on Facebook (@NationalDisability) and Twitter (@NatDisability) and by using the hashtags #ADA33 and #ThanksToTheADA. The social media campaign highlights not only Titles I-V of the ADA, but also recognizes the activists that worked towards the equal rights of all people with disabilities before and after the passage of the legislation.

One of those activists was and is Robert Burgdorf, Jr., Professor of Law Emeritus, at the University of the District of Columbia’s David A. Clarke School of Law. Professor Burgdorf has taught courses and written extensively on the rights of persons with disabilities.

“The point of the ADA is not disability – it is discrimination. The ADA is a mandate for equality.” – Robert Burgdorf, Jr.

The Disability Rights Movement that sparked the passage of the ADA and the essential work that NDI and other organizations have done to help realize the ADA’s promise of economic self-sufficiency contribute to fulfilling the “mandate for equality,” but there is more to be done. For example, NDI’s research brief, ”Race, Ethnicity and Disability Financial Impact of Systemic Inequality and Intersectionality,” recognizes the disparity in economic status and opportunities available to people that are Black, Indigenous or People of Color (BIPOC) with disabilities. The brief and presents a set of conclusions and recommendations that should involve all of us as individuals, families, organizations, institutions and government.

Additionally, NDI partnered with Asset Funders Network (AFN) to create the report, Advancing Economic Justice for People with Disabilities, which outlines efforts needed to eliminate the systemic disadvantages for those whose disability limits their ability to work and build and protect assets, and more.

The new study, “Economic Impacts of Removing Transportation Barriers to Employment for Individuals with Disabilities Through Autonomous Vehicle Adoption,” written in partnership with NDI and Cruise, examines how accessible, affordable and sustainable autonomous vehicles (AVs) could increase employment for people with disabilities. Access to employment can create a pathway to economic inclusion and financial stability.

Day in and day out, NDI’s employment projects are eliminating the barriers to economic self-sufficiency faced by job seekers with disabilities. The American Dream Employment Network (ADEN) is working to create a path for individuals, currently receiving Social Security disability benefits, who want to return to work or begin working for the first time. Inclusive Employment Solutions (IES) offers technical assistance, tools and resources to support community leaders and workforce/human service system managers, service professionals and others in efforts to improve employment services and outcomes for individuals with disabilities. NDI’s Small Business Hub is a collaboration with over 40 organizations working together to help entrepreneurs and business owners with disabilities find capital, create a business plan, expand customer outreach and more.

In the 33 years since the passage of the ADA, there have been historic successes in protecting the civil rights of people with disabilities and fulfilling the ADA’s promise and mandate. However, enormous work, requiring an enduring, shared responsibility, lies ahead. NDI is positioned to lead that work by collaborating and innovating to build a better financial future for people with disabilities and their families and a more equitable society for all.

Learn more about NDI and help us be a catalyst for change.

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