The changing face of disabilities


Amanda Mate

As early as a generation ago, many people with disabilities lived “away” in institutions or homes, not integrated into the community and certainly not often part of the visible workforce. Historically speaking, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), is a relatively new federal law implemented in 1990. This federal law “prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities and transportation.” Still, regardless of ability, it can be very difficult for disabled individuals to find meaningful employment. Yet, within our communities we find organizations with open minds and hearts, and hardworking disabled individuals ready to contribute to the workforce.



While more opportunities arise each day, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics, in Illinois only 17.6% of those with disabilities are employed. Illinois ranks near the bottom of U.S. states (keeping company with Arkansas, Texas, Virginia and Mississippi) based on the amount it spends to promote community support, independence and productivity among the disabled. Meet some Batavia citizens and area businesses who are reversing this trend.






Amanda Mate works at Cougar stadium. Photo by Michael Barton, Michael Barton Art





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