News

Self Advocates Speak Out On Capitol Hill

Thu, March 31, 2011 11:29 AM | Deanna Tharpe (Administrator)

In March, DSAIA Board Member David Egan spoke before a packed room on Capitol Hill regarding barriers people with intellectual disabilities face in the workplace.  Currently, employment participation is estimated to be as low as 23.9 percent.  This is a figure which Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who chairs the committee, described as "shockingly low." 

“We need to do much better,” Harkin said. “We need to address this problem aggressively and creatively in order to increase the quality of life for the more than 50 million Americans with disabilities, including the almost eight million with intellectual disabilities.”  Witnesses told the committee that increasing employment opportunities relies on having high expectations and working closely with businesses to remove attitudinal barriers. In addition, it’s essential to start working with children at a young age to train them for the workplace and get them involved through internships in competitive employment situations.

That’s how David Egan got his start. For 15 years, the Virginia resident and Special Olympian has worked as a distribution clerk at the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton where he began as a high school intern. "Employment of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is a smart business decision and a social responsibility," Egan told the committee. "I feel like I am part of a team. My company offers more than a job - it's a career." 

I want to tell you what WONDERFUL time I had at the conference. I learned so much and came away with lots of ideas for our organization. -Barb Waddle, The Upside of Downs of Northeast Ohio

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