By Heather Kerstetter
With the prevalence of North Philadelphians with a disability being 1 in 5, LNPWI recognizes the importance of understanding the needs of people with disabilities, as well as the barriers they may face when engaging with the workforce. According to the most recent U.S. disability employment statistics, less than 20% of people with disabilities are currently participating in the workforce in any capacity across all education levels. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does prohibit employers from discriminating against people with disabilities in every aspect of employment, including but not limited to hiring, firing, equal pay, promotions, and workplace accommodations. However, since the ADA was passed, the employment rates of people with disabilities have risen only a fraction.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. On October 8th, 2019, LNPWI teamed up with Temple University’s Institute on Disabilities’ Tech Owl to host an assistive technology expo at the Charles Library. One of the many barriers to employment for people with disabilities is individual access needs. Assistive technology can open doors to employment by allowing people with disabilities the ability to independently communicate, use computers and telephones, and navigate the work environment with ease.
The assistive technology expo event demonstrated the use of multiple technologies that could be utilized by users with a myriad of disabilities, including augmentative and alternative communication devices, screen readers, captioned telephones, 3D printed adaptive equipment, and much more. The expo was a great success, and LNPWI looks forward to collaborating with the Institute on Disabilities to host other educational events on the topic of disability in the workforce. LNPWI believes it is possible to expand the work opportunities for people with disabilities in North Philadelphia by bringing awareness to the community.