Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) Commissioner Victor Calise announced a series of events during October 2019.
The events are part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), a national campaign to raise awareness of disability employment issues and highlight the contributions of Americans with disabilities to the country’s diverse workforce. New York City will commemorate NDEAM with programming including “Access and Employment Week” as well as a public awareness campaign to showcase the City’s efforts to employ people with disabilities and continue the dialogue about how to further connect New Yorkers with disabilities to jobs, internships, and apprenticeships.
“If we want to be the fairest city in America, we must ensure that everyone has equal access and opportunity,” said Mayor de Blasio. “During National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we recognize the contributions of hardworking New Yorkers with disabilities and collaborate with our partners to connect more New Yorkers with disabilities to meaningful work.”
“The de Blasio Administration proudly celebrates all of the hardworking New Yorkers with disabilities who contribute so much to our great City,” said J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. “We will also continue building partnerships and expanding coalitions through landmark initiatives like NYC:ATWORK to ensure unemployed people with disabilities can be connected to meaningful, living wage jobs.”
“In order to be the most accessible city in the world, we must work to employ more New Yorkers with disabilities so they can have the resources to take advantage of everything the City has to offer,” said MOPD Commissioner Victor Calise. “The National Disability Employment Awareness Month events build on the work of the NYC: ATWORK employment initiative and MOPD is excited to work with the disability and business communities as well as elected officials and others to spread awareness of disability employment issues throughout October and beyond.”
Employment is a major issue for Americans with disabilities as they are twice as likely to be out of the workforce as their nondisabled peers. Nearly one million New Yorkers have self-disclosed that they have a disability. Recognizing the imperative to address employment for New Yorkers with disabilities in a holistic way, the de Blasio Administration created NYC:ATWORK. This business-led and business-driven public-private partnership acts as a convener between the business community and a centralized pipeline of talented job seekers with disabilities. MOPD identifies meaningful, living wage job opportunities and recruits qualified candidates with disabilities to fill those positions in accordance with the needs of the business community. In a two year period since October 2017, the program has connected with over 1,900 people with disabilities.
MOPD has also convened a Business Development Council of nearly 100 companies across a myriad of high growth sectors including finance, hospitality, transportation, retail, healthcare, technology, and City government to connect New Yorkers with disabilities to internships, jobs, and careers.
The National Disability Employment Awareness Month events reaffirm the Administration’s commitment to ensuring that every New Yorker—including those with disabilities—has every opportunity to succeed and thrive in the workplace. At a time of historically low unemployment and global competition creating a high demand for skilled talent, New Yorkers with disabilities play an essential role in the City’s economic success.
“Thanks to Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Calise for their efforts to make New York City one of the most inclusive workplaces in the world,” said New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. “Individuals with disabilities fight an uphill battle to enter the workforce and too often face unequal treatment after they are hired. Companies need to remove barriers to employment for people with disabilities. It’s smart business. National Disability Employment Awareness Month is a time for action because there are millions of talented people with disabilities who have a right to a welcoming workplace.”
“National Disability Employment Awareness Month is an opportunity to amplify the barriers people with disabilities face in securing employment and commit to finding solutions. In order to be a fair, equitable city, we must create more job opportunities for people with disabilities so they can lead active, fulfilling, and healthy lives. As Chair of the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addiction, I am excited to work alongside my partners in government, disability advocates, and employers throughout our city to achieve this goal,” said Council Member Diana Ayala, Chair of the Council Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addiction.
“This National Disability Employment Awareness Month, New York City will strengthen its commitment to people with disabilities by highlighting both the contributions that New Yorkers with disabilities have made to our city and the barriers that they still face in the job market. As former Chair of the Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities, I know that our city has taken historic steps to address these barriers including the creation of innovative public private partnerships like NYC:ATWORK, which help recruit qualified candidates to fill job vacancies, and will continue to make meaningful improvements,” said Assembly Member David I. Weprin. “I thank Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Mayor’s Office of People with Disabilities Commissioner Victor Calise for their unwavering efforts to improve accessibility in our city for all New Yorkers.”
“Disability rights are human rights, and this, of course, applies to employment. I commend the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities for its extensive and innovative efforts to engage private and public sector employers on this issue. We must take every step possible to combat employment discrimination based on disability status, which in addition to being illegal, is profoundly misguided,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Chair of the Committee on Women & Gender Equity.
“Individuals with vision loss or other disabilities should not have to overcome more obstacles than most when finding and keeping a job,” said Alan R. Morse, JD, PhD, President and CEO of Lighthouse Guild. “Everyone must have the tools they need to lead independent and productive lives. Lighthouse Guild commends and supports MOPD’s employment initiatives for people with disabilities.”
“The Harlem Independent Living Center applauds the efforts of Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Calise; Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities in their ongoing efforts to raise awareness regarding employment and people with disabilities,” said Christina Curry, Executive Director of the Harlem Independent Living Center. “NYC should be the leader in hiring people with disabilities and this is another step in the right direction.”
“Bold measures are required to raise the employment rate for people with disabilities,” said Susan Dooha, Executive Director, Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY. “We invite the City and State governments to use their purchasing power to create more opportunities for people with disabilities and we look forward to working with MOPD on this issue.”
“After discrimination, poor transportation is cited by New Yorkers with disabilities as the biggest barrier to employment, which is why new City initiatives like allowing Access-A-Ride vans to use bus lanes make so much sense,” said Joe Rappaport, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled. “Other improvements, like on-demand Access-A-Ride service and more accessible subway stations, also are essential if the job outlook is to change.”
“As an organization that focuses on hiring talented individuals with disabilities we know firsthand the value and talent they bring to an organization,” said Brett Eisenberg, Executive Director of Bronx Independent Living Services. “We are glad that MOPD and City Hall are working on initiatives to improve employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. Individuals with disabilities are extremely talented and have so much to bring any employer and we look forward to continuing to partner with MOPD on dispelling all the false myths of hiring individuals with disabilities. The needle has not moved much in terms of hiring individuals with disabilities since the passage of the ADA and as an organization and employer we will never give up on working to ensure that individuals with disabilities receive the employment opportunities that they deserve. We will continue to work with all of our partners on providing paid internships to individuals with disabilities and work readiness classes and we encourage every employer to take advantage of programming during NDEAM and to work with organizations like BILS on hiring this underutilized and extremely talented workforce.”