This past Saturday, July 26 we celebrated the 24th anniversary of a very important legislation for individuals with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination based on disabilities and ensures that those with disabilities have equal opportunity to employment, government and state programs and public services.

Signs like these would not be required in public places without the ADA

Signs like these would not be required in public places without the ADA

The law was modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made discrimination based on race, religion and sex illegal. ADA was signed into law on July 26, 1990 by President George H Bush.

Thanks to the ADA, Americans with disabilities can actively participate within our communities. Here at Goodwill, the ADA allows us to run programs that help those with disabilities strive for success through the power of work. We offer a series of programs that provide opportunities for job-seekers with developmental, behavioral or physical disabilities.

According to Goodwill NY-NJ’s Senior Vice President of Rehabilitation Services, Ed O’Donnell, the ADA helps Goodwill to work and connect more effectively with employers. Because of this law, many companies now hire individuals with disabilities. Organizations like Goodwill can connect people with disabilities to those jobs. 

This weekend marked the anniversary of a law, but what we really celebrate at Goodwill, are the stories of people the ADA has helped. We celebrate the stories of individuals like Larry Johnson, a person with Autism Spectrum Disorder who found employment despite barriers presented by their disabilities.

With the help of Goodwill, Larry found and maintained a job that is perfect for him. When Larry, 52 was laid off from his mail room attendant job he turned to Goodwill’s Bridges to Success program for help. After working with the staff and his peers at the program, Larry improved his communication skills, enhanced his confidence, and landed his perfect job. 

 

Larry, pictured here, is being filmed for a documentary about his success story at Goodwill

Larry, pictured here, is being filmed for a documentary about his success story at Goodwill

Larry now works as a scheduled messenger position with Goodwill, traveling independently between the boroughs of New York City to transport important documents and packages. Larry’s keen sense of direction and ease to travel independently suited him well for this job.

You can learn more about Larry and his story by watching our video about him, here.

Mr. O’Donnell says that the ADA has helped to promote openness to hiring individuals with disabilities within many organizations. “Almost every major employer is now involved in some way, shape or form with advocacy for hiring individuals with disabilities,” he said.

In fact, if you visit the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN) website, you will find a list of over 50 corporate members of the network which are part of the non-profit organization which helps to improve business performance by including more individuals with disabilities in the workplace. 

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Alyssa Raiola is a Journalism student at Northwestern University where she spends her time writing for campus publications, searching for new restaurants, and picking the perfect Instagram filters. Although she loves jogging along Lake Michigan and exploring the Windy City, her heart lies back home in New Jersey where pizza is the right shape and bagels are a delicacy. This summer, she’s back in the Big Apple interning and blogging with Goodwill Industries before she heads off to Seville, Spain to study abroad for the fall semester.

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