UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The New York State Independent Living Council (NYSILC) is lobbying for equal opportunity and job access for people with disabilities.
NYSILC reports that there is a 30 percent employment rate for disabled individuals as compared to 70 percent employment rate for working adults without disabilities. A 40 percent gap leaves the disabled unemployed, living in poverty and living a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Donna Gillette, The Director of Consumer Rights at RCIL said, " They've been told this is all you can do, you can't really do much more in life so the expectation is low. They've been convinced this is all they can do."
NYSILC and RCIL are lobbying for Governor Cuomo to help the disabled. Cuomo, in his State of the State address, presented plans to promote and grow businesses owned and operated by disabled veterans in New York. NYSILC and RCIL believe it's a step in the right direction but say he failed to address the gaps faced by all disabled New Yorkers.
"One thing NYSILC was asking the governor to commit to was increasing employment for disabled individuals without employment by 10-15 percent over the next 10 years." Gillette said, " In order to do that he is going to have to tell his state agency directors to do this...that they need to move so many people into so many jobs and need to have it done by a certain time period."
In the meantime, RCIL looks at legislative and regulatory barriers preventing disabled individuals from finding work. The center makes recommendations to legislators based on the barriers they find. RCIL also takes the initiative of talking to local employers about the benefits of hiring the disabled.
Gillette said, " We talk to them about tax credits available if they hire a disabled individual. We talk to them about the fact that the state vocational rehab agency employer, when you try out an individual, will pay the salary for a while. There are all kinds of incentives."
Gillette also mentioned "A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities," a blueprint for governors. The blueprint was written by governors, disabled individuals and lawmakers. It's focused on the role that government and business can play in improving employment and creating opportunities for the disabled.