ODEP News Release: [07/24/2009]
Contact Name: Bennett Gamble or Jennifer Kaplan
Phone Number: (202) 693-4667 or x5052
Release Number: 09-0865-NAT
Statement by U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis on 19th anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act
WASHINGTON Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today issued the following statement regarding the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA):
"July 26 marks the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, landmark legislation designed to prevent discrimination and enable individuals with disabilities to fully participate in all aspects of society.
"The ADA's provisions include the right to seek, obtain, pursue and maintain employment without being hampered by physical or attitudinal barriers. I believe that having a job is a civil right. Those who are qualified for and want to work should not be denied that right because of an inaccessible building or an outdated set of assumptions about what they can or cannot do.
"In nearly two decades, our nation has come a long way in recognizing the talents and contributions of more than 50 million Americans with disabilities. Unfortunately, the employment rate for people with disabilities in this country is still unacceptably low. Only 22.6 percent of individuals with disabilities are participating in the labor force, compared to 71.9 percent of people with no disability. And although the federal government strives to be a model employer, in actuality the number of people with disabilities in the federal workforce has decreased over the past decade. This trend must be reversed, and the Department of Labor will be a leader in the effort.
"I am pleased to welcome the Honorable Kathy Martinez as the Labor Department's new assistant secretary for the Office of Disability Employment Policy. Kathy's years of leadership as an internationally recognized advocate for people with disabilities, as well as her expertise in diversity and gender issues, make her a perfect fit. Her extensive background includes serving as executive director for the World Institute on Disability and as a board member of the U.S. Institute of Peace.
"The Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy has an abundance of resources to assist employers, workers and others. Information is available on the department's Web site at http://www.dol.gov/odep/."