For Immediate Release

Easterseals Celebrates Advocacy for Developmental Disability Awareness Month

March 4, 2024

Dover, DE – Asa Mebane is a man of many accomplishments. Not only is he a stellar employee, working as part of a crew that keeps state buildings clean, he recently added “advocate” to his list of accomplishments when he went to Legislative Hall in Dover to testify for fair treatment for people with disabilities. Asa also happens to have a developmental disability. 

Mebane was motivated to testify because the State of Delaware is paying companies who don’t employ people with disabilities more than they are paying those who do, even though the work is comparable. Mebane is employed through contracts referred to as "State Set-Aside Contracts", where the state awards contracts to encourage employment for people with disabilities by requiring that at least 75% of the employees who perform the job are persons with disabilities. The State contracts with other businesses who are not required to utilize people with disabilities, but those contracts are paid a higher rate for the same scope of work.   

Mebane, who works through Easterseals Supported Employment program, and his Direct Support Professional, Eddie Zoegar, testified at the Joint Finance Committee budget hearing about the need for equal treatment for the state contracts fulfilled by people with disabilities.

man with disabilities and his direct support professional testify before legislators

”I like working with my staff, and friends, and interacting with the employees. Also, making sure that the worksites are cleaned to the expectations of my employers,” Mebane shared with the committee. “Easterseals helped me get my job. They support me greatly while I am at work.”

Because of Set-Aside contracts, Delawareans with disabilities experience the satisfaction of meaningful work, receive a paycheck, and contribute to their households as well as the local economy.  With the support of Easterseals, Asa and his peers provide janitorial services to 14 locations in Kent & Sussex Counties, including courthouses, police barracks, Army National Guard sites, and other state buildings. Thirty-six individuals with disabilities earn competitive wages through Easterseals Set-Aside contracts. 

March is Developmental Disability Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness of the inclusion of and contributions of people with developmental disabilities. Easterseals programs and services are designed to help people with developmental disabilities meet their full potential and thrive in their community. The month also highlights the importance of advocacy like that done by Mebane, Zoegar and others at Easterseals to make sure the voices of those with disabilities are heard by lawmakers.

Anyone interested in joining Mebane in advocacy should reach out to their state legislators to ask them to support equitable treatment for State Set-Aside Contract providers.  

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