ST. PAUL, Minn. – Roughly 10.6 million, or one in 10, working-age (21-64) Americans have a disability that may impact their ability to work. Helping states do a better job of recruiting and successfully employing people with a disability was the focus of a weekend-long National Task Force attended recently by Sen. John Hoffman (DFL-Champlin).
Hoffman worked on the ‘hiring, retention and reentry’ subcommittee which looked at state government and private sector employer recruitment, hiring and retention strategies. Hoffman says the weekend’s discussions were eye-opening – particularly learning about some state’s success stories.
“I was fascinated to learn that the state of Maryland has a cabinet level position whose sole purpose is to ensure the state is remaining inclusive with its job hiring and recruitment of people with disabilities. The discussion and debate about what some states have found to be successful, as well as simple changes all businesses could do to make them more inclusive – was incredibly informative and I’m looking forward to seeing how we can implement some of these ideas into Minnesota’s workforce laws,” said Hoffman.
Another highlight from Hoffman’s trip came when he had the opportunity to meet and chat with Bobby Silverstein – the architect of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as Public Law 99-457 – Early Intervention law now known as Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The ADA was passed in 1990 and marked a milestone in securing significant civil rights protections for people with disabilities; Public Law 99-457 was passed into law in 1986. Thanks to his dedication and hard work, 49 million Americans with disabilities and their families are given expanded opportunities.
“Having the opportunity to meet and speak with somebody like Silverstein is an absolute honor. For people who work in the disabilities community, and are always striving to create better working conditions and a higher quality of life for those with disabilities – Silverstein is a celebrity. This task force was incredibly informative and re-energized my focus to bring about positive change here in Minnesota,” said Hoffman.
The National Task Force will meet again in Washington D.C. at the end of April, by conference call in late May, and will launch their national policy framework this fall.