Washington, DC, April 26, 2023
Sharon Watson, Easterseals
Easterseals today released findings of a new report, State of Disability Equity and Access, that examines current research on equity, inclusion, and access for the 61+ million individuals in the United States with disabilities in key social determinants of health including employment, transportation, healthcare, and education.
Kendra E. Davenport, president and CEO, Easterseals, said, “This report serves as a benchmark to measure future progress in achieving civil rights for the disability community. As one of the nation’s leading services providers and advocates for 61 million Americans with disabilities, we intend for the report to inform policies and programs which ensure that people with disabilities can fully participate in society.”
Leading disability advocates, corporate and academic changemakers, and members of the Bipartisan Disability Caucus joined Easterseals at the U.S. Capitol to discuss the report, authored by the Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy & Innovation at Loyola Marymount University Law School with support from Voya Financial.
“Corporations like Voya can and do make a big impact in advancing disability inclusion, as well, and are making it easier for people with disabilities to gain competitive integrated employment with hybrid and virtual workplaces and eliminate transportation barriers,” said Jessica Tuman, vice president, Voya Cares and ESG Practice Center of Excellence. “For corporate America, the benefits of competitive, integrated employment must be viewed as a differentiator. We are proud to support this report and encourage other leaders to include disability in their DEIA practices.”
The Easterseals report highlights the most pressing issues and solutions to ensure disability equity across the United States:
“Long-held, outdated stereotypes about disability remain across every aspect of American life, regardless of legislative success or improved outcomes for people with disabilities,” says author and disability activist, Emily Ladau. “No conversation about disability equity and access is complete without addressing stigma.”
Easterseals Affiliates and disability advocates from across the country are in Washington, D.C., to meet with legislators to advocate for programs and policies that address disparities cited in the report. On Thursday, they will convene at the National Press Club for Easterseals’ inaugural Policy and Partnership Forum, featuring representatives from the Department of Labor and the Department of Transportation and moderated by MSNBC’s Symone Sanders.
“We are honored to collaborate with Easterseals and the disability community on this comprehensive report to advance innovative approaches and achieve disability equity in education, employment, healthcare, transportation and more,” said Katherine Perez, executive director, The Coehlo Center for Disability Law, Policy and Innovation.
Easterseals is leading the way to full equity, inclusion, and access through life-changing disability and community services. For more than 100 years, we have worked tirelessly with our partners to enhance quality of life and expand local access to mobility and transportation, healthcare, education, and employment opportunities. And we won’t rest until every one of us is valued, respected, and accepted. Through our national network of Affiliates, Easterseals provides essential services and on-the-ground supports to millions of people each year – from early childhood programs for the critical first five years, to autism services, medical rehabilitation and employment programs, veterans’ services, and more. Our public education, policy, and advocacy initiatives positively shape perceptions and address the urgent and evolving needs of the one in four Americans living with disabilities today. Together, we’re empowering people with disabilities, families, and communities to be full and equal participants in society. Learn more at www.easterseals.com.
The Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy and Innovation
The Honorable Anthony "Tony" Coelho has spent his entire adult life helping advance the lives of people with disabilities. He calls this his "ministry". Diagnosed with epilepsy when he was 22 years old, Tony's ministry is marked by significant milestones: primary author and sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) — the most important piece of civil rights legislation in the last 30 years; advocating for the ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and persuading President Bill Clinton to establish the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor. Tony continues to advocate for civil rights for individuals with disabilities. He persuaded President Barack Obama to issue an executive order enforcing Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to hire people with disabilities -- something they have been doing since 1973 for women and minorities. In 2018, Tony founded The Coelho Center at Loyola Law School to continue his legacy. The mission of The Coelho Center is to collaborate with the disability community to cultivate leadership and advocate innovative approaches to advance the lives of people with disabilities.
About Voya Financial®
Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), is a leading health, wealth and investment company with 7,200 employees who are focused on achieving Voya’s aspirational vision: Clearing your path to financial confidence and a more fulfilling life. Through products, solutions and technologies, Voya helps its 38 million individual, workplace and institutional clients become well planned, well invested and well protected. Benefitfocus, a newly joined Voya company, extends the reach of Voya’s workplace benefits and savings offerings by providing benefits administration capabilities to 16.5 million individual subscription employees across employer and health plan clients. Certified as a “Great Place to Work” by the Great Place to Work® Institute, Voya is purpose-driven and equally committed to conducting business in a way that is socially, environmentally, economically and ethically responsible. Voya has earned recognition as: one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies® by the Ethisphere Institute; a member of the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index; and a “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion” on the Disability Equality Index. For more information, visit voya.com. Follow Voya Financial on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @Voya.