ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — October is Disability Rights and Employment Awareness Month, also known as DREAM. According to the disabilities exhibit at the Capitol, only 35% of the disabled community are employed. The War Room, based on the second floor of the Capitol, presents the DREAM exhibit which honors the history, challenges and accomplishments of the disability rights movement.
A wheelchair on display is from 1925. It was used by Franklin Roosevelt during his tenure as Governor from 1929 to 1932. He was diagnosed with polio in 1921. The exhibit emphasizes the unfair conditions those with disabilities have endured. While New York has made progress in the disabilities movement, activists say there’s still work to be done. “So I think when you talk to an employer about an accommodation, a workplace accommodation that an individual with a disability might need, it can sometimes be overwhelming,” said Maureen O’Brien, President of NYS Industries for the Disabled.
O’Brien said oftentimes companies don’t know what tools they have at their disposal including a tax credit program here in New York, “Again I think if businesses knew more about that and were better trained in how to participate in that…. job coaching is also something that happens directly with individuals with disabilities who go onto a job site and are working with an agency.”
Another issue O’Brien emphasized are limitations when it comes to social security disabilities, “People want to work and if you are permanently disabled and you need assistance through SSDI those are benefits that you should be entitled to where you don’t have to make a commitment to live in poverty the rest of your life.” O’Brien says for companies looking to hire people with disabilities you can contact NYSID.