Capitol Ideas | 2020 | Issue 3 | Celebrating 30 Years of the ADA

Page 1

2020 ISSUE 3


Was hing ton Lt . Gov. Cy r us H abib


CSG Leadership Circle

To learn more about the CSG Associates Program and Leadership Circle, please contact: Maggie Mick, chief advancement officer | p. 859.244.8113 | e.


ISSUE 3 / 2020

ON THE COVER Washington Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib had a childhood eye cancer that caused blindness, and he became legally blind a year before the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990. Passionate about creating opportunity for all, he created Boundless Washington, an outdoor leadership program for young people with disabilities.


events that led to the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as what the passing of the ADA meant for individuals with disabilities across the country.

C H A N G I N G T H E FA C E O F A DA P O L I C Y Across the country, many state leaders who are

impacted by disability work to bring awareness to and advocate for access and equal opportunities for every individual in their communities. Learn more about their work and how they are working for more changes in the future.

LO O K I N G TO T H E F U T U R E Learn more about the impacts of a changing environment and evolving economy, including changes in automation and technology and the emergence of the gig economy, and how these factors have started to affect and will continue to shape the future of disability policy.

T H E I M PA C T O F C O V I D - 1 9 Nearly every person and industry has been changed as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic—access to services and changes in the way we work, learn and engage have impacted every individual and those with disabilities are additionally affected.





L E A R N I N G F R O M T H E PA S T Explore the history of disability policy in the U.S. and the





6 CSG Disability Programs

and Resources An overview of the CSG programs that work in disability employment policy and the resources available to our members.

8 CSG and SEED Outreach Across the U.S. CSG’s Disability Employment Policy team works with the State Exchange on Employment & Disability to bring policy solutions that promote a more inclusive workplace.

42 The Future: How the Changing Economy and Environment will Impact Disability Employment Policy Changes in automation and technology and the emergence of the gig economy create new opportunities and new challenges for individuals with disabilities.

10 The Past: Honoring the

46 The Impact of COVID-19

History that Led to the Passing of the ADA A history of disability policy in the U.S. and the events that led to the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.


14 The Present: States Continue to Lead the Fight for Individuals with Disabilities States are working to help their communities and individuals with disabilities. Learn more about what the ADA looks like today. 18 States Celebrate the ADA



States can honor the 30th anniversary of this monumental legislation through sharing resources, creating online resources and taking to social media.



20 30 State Leaders





Changing the Face of Disability Policy Across the country, many state leaders who are impacted by disability work to bring awareness to and advocate for access and equal opportunities.

on Individuals with Disabilities COVID-19 has limited access to services and changed the way we work, learn and engage for all people, but it has presented particular challenges for those individuals with disabilities.

50 Join the Virtual

Conversation through CSG Webinars CSG will host a series of webinars in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the ADA and those impacted by disabilities. Join the CSG Justice Center and the Disability Employment Policy Team for free virtual learning opportunities.

52 CSG Associates in Action CSG’s private sector partners share their contributions to improving the lives of persons with disabilities.

58 Final Facts: Service

Animals Under the ADA, a service animal is trained to do work for an individual with a disability. Learn more about these essential workers.

contributing SYDNEY GEIGER writers Policy Analyst

publisher DAVID ADKINS


CAPITOL IDEAS, ISSN 2152-8489, ISSUE 3, Vol. 66, No. 1 – Published by The Council of State Governments, 1776 Avenue of the States, Lexington, KY 40511-8536. Opinions expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Council of State Governments nor the views of the editorial staff. Readers’ comments are welcome. Subscription rates: in the U.S., $42 per year. Single issues are available at $7 per copy. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Capitol Ideas, Sales Department, The Council of State Governments, 1776 Avenue of the States, Lexington, KY 40511-8536. Periodicals postage paid at Lexington, Ky., and additional mailing offices.

Graduate Fellow

Mailing lists are available for rent upon approval of a sample mailing. Contact the sales department at (800) 800-1910.


Copyright 2020 by The Council of State Governments.


editor-in-chief KELLEY ARNOLD


managing editor BLAIR HESS

Senior Policy Analyst

associate editor JOEL SAMS digital editor NAVJI DIXON

Program Manager

graphic designers THERESA CARROLL

ERICA MILLER CSG West Programs & Communications Manager



30 SFI-01681


An accessible version of this publication is available upon request. Please email

CSG South/SLC Policy Analyst

TRENT PATRICK Research Associate

contributing JACOB BLEVINS writers Graduate Fellow


Membership Assistant

MICHAEL CLARK CSG Justice Center Director of Communications and External Affairs

Rep. Joan Ballweg

Sen. Sharon Carson

KANSAS CSG National President

WISCONSIN CSG National Chair


David Adkins

Wendell M. Hannaford



Rep. Lucy McVitty Weber NEW HAMPSHIRE CSG East Co-Chair

Sen. Ken Horn MICHIGAN CSG Midwest Chair

House Speaker Tim Moore

Sen. Michael Von Flatern



Michael H. McCabe

Colleen Cousineau

Edgar Ruiz





Gov. Laura Kelly


what’s happening at csg



SSL Committee Now Accepting Legislation for Consideration The CSG Shared State Legislation (SSL) Committee is currently accepting submissions for the 2021 docket cycle. The SSL Committee accepts legislation submissions from state officials and their staff, CSG Associates (private sector members) and CSG staff. It will consider legislation from other sources, but only when that legislation is submitted through a state official. To learn more about SSL or to submit a bill, email

Apply Today for the Inaugural 20 Under 40 Leadership Program

CSG Publishes Report of Fiscal Impact of COVID-19 and Recovery Strategies for States The Council of State Governments (CSG), with research and analysis support from accounting firm KPMG LLP and based on research and surveys of fiscal leaders, released a new report, “COVID-19: Fiscal Impact to States and Strategies for Recovery.” Based on the latest state-by-state estimates, states face an estimated $169-253 billion shortfall in declining general fund revenue receipts and increased Medicaid expenditures for fiscal years ending in 2020 and 2021. Through this report, CSG aims to help states understand the continuing economic risk associated with managing COVID-19, analyze resiliency factors that can help states better prepare to weather this and future shocks and explore strategies to recover and manage the unique challenges from this pandemic. Read the full report at:


COVID-19 Occupational Licensure Policy Responses


While occupational licensing regulations provide certain public health and safety safeguards, the increased health care demands imposed by COVID-19 have compelled states to evaluate which regulations may impede response efforts. In response, states have implemented executive orders/proclamations, legislation and administrative rulings that temporarily amend certain regulations to increase the supply of health care workers, lessen administrative burdens and comply with social distancing measures. CSG worked to compile a collection of state actions, categorized by policy themes and types, to assist states with developing response plans. This resource is available at:

In 2018, 700 millennial candidates ran in the approximately 6,000 state legislative races. Younger leaders increasingly play a major role in state capitols. In an effort to recognize their notable accomplishments and achievements, CSG launched its 20 Under 40 recognition program. The award recipients will be up-and-coming elected and appointed officials from across the country who demonstrate the ability to work across the aisle in meaningful ways to advance the common good and have shown a true commitment to serving the citizens of their state/territory. All 20 recognized leaders will be 40 years old or younger. To apply or to nominate someone for the 20 Under 40 recognition, visit Applications are due Sept. 7, 2020.

CSG Offers New Grant to Utilize USDA Women, Infants and Children Program Funds CSG announces a grant opportunity for state and local agencies to optimize program delivery for the United States Department of Agriculture Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). WIC protects and improves the health and nutritional status of low-income women, infants and children. However, the WIC certification process may present challenges to applicants who are interested in enrolling in the program. Through a new partnership with the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition, CSG will work with USDA Food and Nutrition Service to support innovative project development and evaluation strategies to improve the WIC certification experience. To learn more and to apply for a grant, visit

they tweeted it

THEY T WEETED IT RepDanMiller @RepDanMiller • May 4 Thank you to the @CSGovts for coming to our Disability and Mental Health Summit and prioritizing these issues! #ADA30 #DMHSummit

Karla Rose Hanson @karlarosehanson • May 4 North Dakota’s juvenile justice system may see some reforms. Today, leaders came together from a wide range of entities that help kids when they get in trouble – from courts & law enforcement, to schools & service providers, to lawmakers and more.

Governor Laura Kelly @GovLauraKelly • Feb 7 During the @CSGovts Associates Breakfast in D.C. this morning, I caught up with Wisconsin's @RepBallweg and long-time friend David Adkins, former KS state senator and CEO of CSG. David's reputation as a friendly, competent leader endures in our Statehouse to this day. #ksleg Rep. Joan Ballweg @RepBallweg • Jan 30 For the second time ever, the two leaders of these national organizations are from the same state. Thank you to everyone who helped us celebrate! @CSGovts @NCSLorg

Rep. Donna Bullock @RepDonnaBullock • May 4 I was happy to join the Council of State Governments for a talk about equality and equity. Understanding how those two things differ is an important part of the conversation about inclusion and how we best serve the public.

Barb Byrum @BarbByrum • May 6 It has been my honor to serve on this working group with such distinguished election officials. #Protect2020 #Elections2020

Steve Sweeney @NJSenatePres • Apr 24 For the last 30 years, the #ADA has opened doors and changed lives for countless individuals in the Disabled community. Today I spoke with @CSGovts about the impact the #ADA has had on my life and the importance this legislation holds for millions of citizens.

Ximena Hartsock @ximenahartsock • Apr 23 Looking forward to sharing with state leaders tips to engage with constituents at this time. The impact of #COVID19 on #digitalengagement is remarkable. Thanks Council of State Governments @CSGovts and @CTATech for organizing and for the invitation.


Sen. Elizabeth Lockman @TizzyLockmanDE • May 15 Thank you, @CSG_ERC for hosting a super informative panel today and delivering exactly the kind of tips I sought for my neighbors! All participants were great, though I’ll admit I’m a bit partial to Bro. @Nnamdi4StateRep #DELegBlackCaucus


celebrating 30 years of the ADA



CSG provides resources and services on disability employment and more States can play a critical role in improving the lives of people with disabilities by reducing barriers to employment, improving accessibility and encouraging inclusivity. To help states achieve these goals, the CSG disability employment policy team works with policymakers, federal agencies, people with disabilities and leading non-profit organizations and research institutions to identify policies and practices that can improve employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities. In this effort, CSG and partners provide policymakers with customized research and policy analysis, training, facilitation and hands-on implementation and technical assistance. Examples of our key partner institutions include the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), Cornell University, the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute, the University of Massachu-



The State Exchange on Employment and Disability (SEED) is a unique state-federal initiative that promotes the adoption of disability-inclusive state policy through an innovative partnership model. This formal collaboration, launched by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), helps state and local governments develop and implement meaningful policies and practices that lead to increased employment opportunities for people with disabilities and a stronger, more inclusive workforce and


setts Medical School and the National Conference of State Legislatures, among others. Currently, the disability employment policy team supports three federally funded initiatives:

• The State Exchange on Employment and Disability (SEED)

• RETAIN Kentucky (Retaining Employment and Talent After Injury/Illness Network)

• ODEP’s Youth Policy Center For questions on any of our initiatives or research, analysis or state technical assistance, please contact Dina Klimkina at

economy. As part of the SEED team, CSG works with ODEP, Concepts, Inc. and other partner organizations, including the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and Women in Government (WIG), to reduce barriers to employment for people with disabilities. Currently, the SEED initiative has provided research and customized policy assistance to more than 40 states with resources including research and policy analysis, in-state programming and testimony and policy development such as the drafting of proclamations, legislative specifications and sample executive orders. Learn more at

THROUGH THE SEED INITIATIVE , CSG conducts research on policies and programs

that can improve employment for individuals with disabilities, provides states with customized technical assistance and policy development and identifies new and innovative programs and policies through convenings of policymakers, subject matter experts, practitioners and community and business leaders.

CSG disability programs and resources


Focused on stay-at-work/return-to-work strategies, the Retaining Employment and Talent after Injury/Illness Network (RETAIN) is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) in partnership with the Employment and Training Administration and Social Security Administration. This program engages state teams in a series of demonstration projects focused on helping workers stay at work or return to the workforce following an illness or injury.

Kentucky is one of eight states participating in the RETAIN initiative. The Kentucky extension of RETAIN — RETAIN Kentucky — is led by the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation together with the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute and committed project partners including The Council of State Governments. To learn more, visit

YOUTH POLICY CENTER The U.S. Department of Labor has announced a four-year, $4 million cooperative agreement to operate a policy development center focused on youth with disabilities. The center will build on the work of the department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth. The center

will conduct research, engage with the workforce system and its partners, identify effective policies and practices that support youth with disabilities and provide resources and training to help support the transition of youth with disabilities to employment.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR RESOURCES The U.S. Department of Labor has a variety of additional resources that can assist states in understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), accessibility, disability employment and accommodations for all. Some of those resources include:

• EARN ( • The LEAD Center ( • PEAT (

• The State Protection & Advocacy Centers ( programs/aging-and-disability-networks/state-protection-advocacy-systems) • Aging and Disability Resources Centers ( • Centers for Independent Living (


• JAN (

• The ADA National Network ( aging-and-disability-networks/americans-disabilities-act-national-network)


celebrating 30 years of the ADA


Policy Assistance


2016 - 2020


Received direct policy assistance from SEED

Work Matters Policy Action Plans developed by state teams

Updated June 2020

COVID-19 and individuals with disabilities



New Mexico



SEED testified on Work Matters policy options and state examples to the New Mexico Disabilities Concerns Joint Subcommittee in June 2017 and again in September 2019 and is working with representatives from the legislature and the governor’s office to implement the state’s Work Matters policy action plan.

New Jersey



SEED engaged with the governor’s office and Senate President Steve Sweeney to provide policy assistance that led to New Jersey establishing the Task Force on Maximizing Employment for People with Disabilities and enacting the Apprentice Assistance and Support Services Pilot Program, which addresses the lack of affordable, reliable transportation and affordable, high quality child care for individuals participating in apprenticeships.




SEED provided customized policy briefs and state examples to support Rep. Christie Carpino’s bill to “study and develop recommendations to increase employment opportunities for persons with disabilities.” As a result, Gov. Ned Lamont signed legislation establishing a task force to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities.




SEED’s efforts with the governor’s office on Workforce Development led to the potential inclusion of disabilities in Alaska’s Affirmative Action Plans and the creation of a state Centralized Accommodation Program. At the office’s request, SEED also provided policy options to assist the state in developing a Work Matters Task Force executive order and is supporting ongoing efforts to implement Alaska’s Work Matters policy action plan.



At the request of Sen. Becky Massey, SEED provided ongoing policy assistance, including legislative specifications for an act establishing Tennessee as a model employer of individuals with disabilities. Sen. Massey has sponsored multiple bills, including two recently enacted: one requiring state agencies to provide appropriate accommodations and one adding disability-owned businesses to the state’s Minority-Owned, Woman-Owned and Small Business Procurement and Contracting Act.




celebrating 30 years of the ADA


Honoring the history that led to the passing of






The Smith-Fess Act, also known as the Civilian Vocational Rehabilitation Act, established the Vocational Rehabilitation program for Americans with disabilities.

Throughout history, many practitioners and policymakers treated individuals with disabilities as “defective” or in need of “fixing.” Individuals were excluded from public education, isolated from their neighbors and forced into institutions against their will. Some cities even enacted “ugly laws,” which barred persons with impairments from being seen in public. Justice Thurgood Marshall in Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center, Inc. characterized the "lengthy and tragic history” of treatment of individuals with developmental disabilities as “grotesque.” In the 1970s and 80s, state and federal policymakers began to change their views of individuals with disabilities, recognizing the precept that a disability is a natural and normal part of life. This paradigm shift followed the model of the civil rights movement and led to the recognition that many barriers for individuals with disabilities were, in fact, rooted in our society. These barriers included cultural stigma, public policies that made it challenging for individuals to live independently and self-advocate, physical structures,





The Social Security Act established an income maintenance system for those unable to work by providing benefits to unemployed individuals and retirees. The act outlined assistance to aged individuals, blind individuals and dependent and “crippled” children.

The Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 was the first federal law focused on the accessibility of federal buildings and addressing barriers faced by individuals with disabilities.

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 included civil rights protections for individuals with disabilities in programs and activities receiving federal assistance. The act also prohibited employment discrimination by federal agencies and federal contractors.

The 1975 Education for All Handicapped Children Act, later known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), guaranteed a free, appropriate public education, in the least restrictive environment, to every child with a disability.

ADA: the past and transportation and communication infrastructures that excluded individuals with disabilities.

State Leadership Highlight

The first federal law addressing barriers faced by individuals with disabilities was the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968, which focused on the accessibility of federal buildings. Five years later, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 included civil rights protections for individuals with disabilities in programs and activities receiving federal assistance and prohibited employment discrimination by federal agencies and federal contractors. Shortly after the passage of The Rehabilitation Act, federal policymakers enacted the landmark 1975 Education for All Handicapped Children Act — later known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) — which guarantees to every child with a disability a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.

Illinois Attorney General Neil F. Hartigan testified on behalf of the ADA in May of 1989 to the “firsthand daily instances of discrimination that occur against persons with disabilities: being unable to hop a bus to work because they use a wheelchair; being forced to enter a building through the loading dock because there are steps to the main entrance; being unable to attend a town council meeting because it is held on the 2nd floor at a non-elevator building.”

THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was groundbreaking but limited in its reach. It did not address discrimination on the basis of disability by entities that did not receive federal assistance. As a result, widespread discrimination persisted.

In 1983, Hartigan established a Disabled Persons Advocacy Division, the first full-fledged division in any attorney general’s office in the country where staff were devoted full time to disability rights issues at the state level. The division improved accessibility for public buildings within Illinois, created a comprehensive Health Insurance Plan for individuals with disabilities and passed legislation on parking provisions, telecommunications, transportation, education and voting for individuals with disabilities.

On May 8, 1989, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was introduced by both the U.S. House and Senate. After lengthy negotiations and a number of amendments, President George H.W. Bush signed the ADA into law on July 26, 1990. An act modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the ADA represented the most comprehensive disability rights legislation in history. “The passage of the ADA occurred during a window of opportunity created by several key factors: strong bi-partisan





The federal Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act intended to protect the rights of people in state or local correctional facilities, nursing homes, mental health facilities and institutions for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act required accessible polling places in federal elections for elderly individuals and people with disabilities. Where no accessible location is available to serve as a polling place, voters must be provided an alternate means of voting on Election Day.

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a civil rights law prohibiting discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation and all public and private places that are open to the general public.

The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 included increasing the historically low registration rates of persons with disabilities. This law required offices that provide public assistance or state-funded programs that primarily serve persons with disabilities to also provide the opportunity to register to vote in federal elections.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was the first major overhaul of telecommunications law and included provisions for people with disabilities. Section 255 required telecommunications products and services to be accessible to peoples with disabilities, including making access “readily achievable” without much difficulty or expense.

For more important events in history, visit




celebrating 30 years of the ADA


support, a compelling case for change made by both legislators and members of the disability community, the inclusion of all appropriate stakeholders including state and local governments and business interests, and the recognition that civil rights goals needed to be balanced by legitimate community interests,” said Bobby Silverstein, former staff director and chief counsel for the Senate Subcommittee on Disability Policy, who served as a behind-the-scenes architect of the ADA. “There were incredible profiles in courage exercised by policymakers.”

a compelling case for nondiscrimination, the business community ensured that that the legislation balanced the rights of people with disabilities with the legitimate concerns of employers and businesses.

Policymakers from both sides of the isle including President Bush, Senators Tom Harkin (the primary sponsor), Orrin Hatch, Bob Dole and Kennedy Representatives Tony Coelho, Steny Hoyer, Steve Bartlett and Hamilton Fish and Illinois Attorney General Neil Hartigan risked their careers to advocate for the omnibus civil rights bill, Silverstein said. Many participants even spoke out to share their own experiences with disabilities, including personal and family experiences, and some directly countered party beliefs.

The ADA guarantees equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment,

The ADA outlines four goals: 1. Equality of opportunity 2. Full participation 3. Independent living 4. Economic self-sufficiency


Beyond the strong advocacy of policymakers, the ADA was successful as a result of the involvement of numerous stakeholders in its formation, ranging from state and local governments to business interests and the disability community. While the disability advocacy community provided


I like to think of the ADA as an acronym for both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the American Dream for All. The ADA serves as a handle for making the promise of equality a reality for our neighbors with disabilities.” — BOBBY SILVERSTEIN, former staff director and chief counsel for the Senate Subcommittee on Disability Policy


transportation, state and local government services and telecommunications. The legislation sought not to “fix” people with disabilities, but rather to remove barriers within the social and physical environment that create access and engagement in every aspect of life. “From a policy perspective, the ADA boils down to treating people with disabilities with dignity and respect, focusing on individuals’ strengths and abilities, recognizing and celebrating differences, fostering self-determination and removing architectural, communication and transportation barriers,” Silverstein said. “I like to think of the ADA as an acronym for both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the American Dream for All. The ADA serves as a handle for making the promise of equality a reality for our neighbors with disabilities.” The ADA defines disability, with respect to an individual, as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record or history of such an impairment or being regarded by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically list each disability that it covers. “Across our nation, mothers are giving birth to infants with disabilities, so I want to dedicate the ADA to these: the next generation of children and their families,” said Sen. Tom Harkin, chief sponsor and floor manager of the ADA on the law’s enactment. “With the passage of the ADA, we as a society make a pledge that every child with a disability will have the opportunity to maximize his or her potential to live proud, productive and prosperous lives in the mainstream of our society. We love you all and welcome you into the world. We look forward to becoming your friends, neighbors and co-workers. We say, whatever you decide as your goal, go for it. The doors are open, and the barriers are coming down.”

CSG thanks Bobby Silverstein for his contributions to this article.



Title I is designed to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability and ensure individuals with disabilities access the same employment opportunities as those without disabilities, including access to reasonable accommodations.



Title II prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all programs, activities and services of public entities, including state and local governments and agencies. This act also imposes standards for the operation of public transit systems and requirements for making reasonable modifications to policies, practices and procedures where necessary to avoid discrimination.



Title III requires that public accommodations do not discriminate against persons with disabilities, including making reasonable modifications to their policies and requiring that all new construction and modifications in public accommodations — such as restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, etc. — be accessible to individuals with disabilities.



Title IV requires that telephone companies must have telephone relay services available for individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TTYs) or similar devices.



Title V includes a provision prohibiting coercing, threatening or retaliating against individuals with disabilities or those attempting to aid people with disabilities in asserting their rights under the ADA. SOURCE: ADA.GOV


Over the past 30 years, the ADA has continued to evolve and shape state and federal legislation. Other critical policy changes have included the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, the Telecommunications Act of 1996, additions to the IDEA and Rehabilitation Acts and a number of other critical supreme court rulings including Spector v. Norwegian Cruise Line Ltd. (2005), Olmstead v. L.C. (2009) and Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools (2017). Most notably, the 2008 ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) made changes to clarify the original definition of disability under the ADA, making it easier for an individual seeking protection under the ADA to establish that he or she has a disability within the meaning of the statute.

ADA: the past


celebrating 30 years of the ADA

Capitalizing on 30 years of progress, states continue to lead the fight for individuals with disabilities by Dina Klimkina

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has led to considerable improvements in the lives of individuals with disabilities over the previous 30 years. Marking the 25th anniversary of the ADA, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston conducted a survey titled “The Impact of the ADA in American Communities.” According to the survey, some of the greatest impacts of the ADA include:

» Improvements to public accommodations » Improvements to self-esteem for individuals with disabilities » Access to transportation » Improved quality of life » Access to independent and community living ISSUE 3 2020 | CAPITOL IDEAS

» Improved public awareness about the ADA and disability etiquette


“As a parent who uses a wheelchair and has two children — now 8 and 10 — who have mobility impairments, the ADA’s impact on ‘simple things’ like accessible restrooms and accessible diaper changing stations has made all the difference in my family’s successful inclusion in our community,” stated a survey participant.

Under Title II of the ADA, states are mandated to ensure nondiscrimination. States are uniquely positioned to address the needs of individuals within their states through state policy and programming. In fact, states have led the charge in protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities not only through state boards, councils, caucuses and commissions on disabilities, but also through programs and initiatives which encourage improvements in accessibility, transportation, disability awareness and etiquette, employment and education services and more. One way states work to prioritize individuals with disabilities is through legislative caucuses, governor’s councils and/ or task forces on disability. These groups, often bi-partisan, focus on bringing disability issues to the forefront of the public policy discussion, improving disability etiquette, promoting the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in the legislative process and/or targeting specific issues, such as health care, employment, housing, education and service provision, among many other issues. Some groups also focus on a specific sector of the population, including individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, veterans, individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and other groups.

ADA: the present


State has legislation that ensures disability training to public and private sector employees

Currently, at least eight states — Connecticut, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania — have legislative caucuses on disabilities. Nearly all states have some kind of executive committee on disabilities, varying from employment first commissions and developmental disabilities councils to commissions for mental health, developmental disabilities and substance abuse services and even governors’ committees on employment of people with disabilities. Other states have also begun to include individuals with disabilities in committees on employment, the future of the workforce and transportation, a practice that ensures a disability perspective is included in broader policy areas.

nities and helping organizations serve customers more effectively. In December 2019, more than 60 CSG members participated in the Work Matters: A Disability Employment Policy Primer session at the CSG National Conference, which included a Disability Etiquette Training. Another critical improvement resulting from the ADA is improved access to transportation. Title II of the ADA applies to public transit systems and ensures that public transportation agencies cannot discriminate against individuals with disabilities. The ADA also ensures that public transit agencies provide paratransit services. Increased access to transportation improves individuals’ abilities to live independently and more easily access health care, employment and education opportunities. States have taken a variety of approaches to improving access to transportation. Some states, like Florida, have established working groups or commissions to address the transportation needs of individuals with disabilities. Further, Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, New Hampshire, Illinois, Washington and West Virginia are some of the states that have policies requiring disability


Many states have also become leaders in disability awareness, etiquette and training. Among others, Massachusetts, Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri and Illinois have enacted legislation that ensures disability training to public and private sector employees. Disability etiquette training can help employees and employers feel more comfortable and knowledgeable when interacting with colleagues with disabilities while helping expand public and private sector opportu-

State has Legislative Caucus on Disabilities e


celebrating 30 years of the ADA


State has policy requiring disability representation on transportation councils

State has enacted non-discrimination / other policies applicable to transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft

The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) has developed simple steps for ensuring disability etiquette:

» Use “people first” language, which recognizes that individuals are more than their disabilities.

» Don’t ask questions about a person’s disability unless it is brought up by the individual.

» If you offer assistance, wait until the offer is accepted. Then listen to or ask for instructions.

» Speak directly to the person. » Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you are unISSUE 3 2020 | CAPITOL IDEAS

sure of what to do.


» When introduced to a person with a disability, it is appropriate to offer to shake hands. People with limited hand use or who have artificial limbs can usually shake hands. Shaking hands with the left hand is also an acceptable greeting.

» Treat adults as adults. Address people who have disabilities by their first names only when extending the same familiarity to all others.

representation on transportation councils. States including California, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Texas have enacted non-discrimination and other policies applicable to transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft. States including Colorado and Nevada are also looking to improvements in artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles to improve access to transportation for individuals with disabilities. Increased access to transportation has and will continue to play a critical role in improving the lives of individuals with disabilities. While improvements have occurred across the board, according to the survey conducted by the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, areas for continued improvement include employment, access to independent living, access to health care and access to housing. Currently, states are working steadily to address these issues. For example, many states have focused on disability employment as a policy priority. From 2015 to the present, nearly 40 states have worked with the State Exchange on Employment and Disability Source: disability-etiquette/

ADA: the present (SEED) to identify barriers and improve employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. States can promote the employment of individuals with disabilities in variety of ways, including acting as model employers, providing businesses with incentives for hiring individuals with disabilities, improving interagency coordination and collaboration surrounding employment services and encouraging entrepreneurship opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

people with disabilities. Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Connecticut and Washington have adopted hiring goals for people with disabilities, whether by percentage of the workforce or other numerical goals. Other states, like Delaware, Maryland, Utah and Florida, have adopted fast track hiring systems that include special appointment lists for noncompetitive appointment.

States can act as model employers by demonstrating to private sector businesses the efficacy, efficiency and unique skills and talents of individuals with disabilities in the workforce. Not only are states some of the largest employers across the country, but they also play a lead role in human capital development for state industry. This allows them to reduce barriers to entry for previously disenfranchised populations and provide valuable skills training.

For more information on improvements and changes to state policy regarding employment for individuals with disabilities, visit to read the report, “Work Matters: A Framework for States on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities� and learn about additional state policies and initiatives that can improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities.

For example, Alaska, California, Florida, Louisiana, Ohio and Massachusetts have adopted policies supporting the development of strategic plans for state employment of

For the latest information and resources in celebration of #ADA30, visit


State adopted hiring goals for people with disabilities

State adopted fast track hiring system to include special appointment lists for noncompetitive appointment


State has adopted policy in support of strategic plans for state employment of people with disabilities


celebrating 30 years of the ADA


C E L E B R AT E State resources for celebrating the Americans with Disabilities Act by Trent Patrick States continuously work to improve and evolve their policies regarding disability, and the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides the perfect opportunity to engage in conversations around accessibility, workplace accommodations and beyond. To highlight the importance of the ADA and the work that follows its passing, states can celebrate by:

• Scheduling social media campaigns and posts • Signing a proclamation with inclusive ADA 30th anniversary language

• Signing an executive order establishing the state as a

model employer with inclusive ADA 30th anniversary language

• Establishing a state task force • Hiring a state ADA coordinator • Performing a statewide assessment of state websites ISSUE 3 2020 | CAPITOL IDEAS

for accessibility


• Conducting disability etiquette training for state government employees

Online Resources Funded by a grant from the Administration for Community Living’s National Institute on Disability, Independent Living,

and Rehabilitation, a website marking the 30th anniversary of the ADA ( is a great resource for states to begin planning how they will salute this landmark and find creative ways to highlight the groundbreaking civil rights legislation for people with disabilities. This online resource highlights the many ways states can celebrate, inform, learn from and share the unique role the ADA has played in bringing about inclusive policies and regulations in the states.

Utilizing Social Media A coordinated social media campaign can be impactful to showcase the ways your state is celebrating this anniversary. Think creatively when it comes to generating content, and use existing resources to establish effective content that educates about the ADA, highlights the impact on people with disabilities and recognizes workplaces that have benefitted from the inclusion of people with disabilities. The Campaign for Disability Employment, a U.S. Department of Labor initiative, created four powerful public service announcements to help states highlight the impact of the ADA. Access and share those at The ADA 30th anniversary website offers a social media toolkit ( This resource notes ways to make your content accessible for all users, and it can help coordinate social media posts to match the ADA30 celebration through existing hashtags.

states celebrate the ADA

Issue a Proclamation The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) created sample proclamations for states to use to enumerate their support and promise to uphold the tenets of the ADA. Those can be accessed at sample_proclamation. The State Exchange on Employment and Disability (SEED), funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, wrote a descriptive proclamation for use by policymakers and government leaders. It can be found at csg.publications/docs/seed_sample_ada_30th_anniversary_proclamation_3.17.

Hashtags used to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the ADA include:


Executive Orders


A proclamation is a great way to show support for the ADA, and an executive order mandating the state’s continued efforts to improve inclusivity and to establish the state as a model employer to protect the participation of people with disabilities is vital to statewide priority setting. SEED also provides draft executive orders — available at ada_30th_anniversary_eo_or_jt_resoluti — that states can use to launch State as Model Employer programs (SAME).


Several states have successfully enacted executive orders and state legislation that established the state as a model employer. In 2018, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order combating harassment in the workplace and setting the priority of diversity and inclusion for all people, including people with disabilities, with reference to the ADA. In 2009, the Massachusetts Disability Task Force on Employment released a strategic plan to establish the state as a model employer. It sought to create more inclusive opportunities for people with disabilities in the state executive branch.

#ADANational #CSGCelebratesADA30

For technical assistance and more information on the ADA and SAME policies and programs, contact Dina Klimkina, CSG Disability Employment Policy program manager, at ISSUE 3 2020 | CAPITOL IDEAS


celebrating 30 years of the ADA



Impacting Disability Policy

by Mary Elizabeth Robertson and Joel Sams

Across the country, lawmakers, commissioners, directors, governors and other individuals work to enrich the U.S. through their contributions to communities, and many are impacted by a disability. Despite differences in political party or background, job title or community, they all share one thing in common: The Americans With Disabilities Act brought accessibility and opportunity to their personal and professional lives. As the nation celebrates 30 years of the groundbreaking legislation, we recognize our members who continue to bring awareness to disability issues and advocate for people with disabilities as they look ahead to the work that still needs to be done.

30 leaders

CYRUS HABIB Lieutenant Governor • Washington

Nearing the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, the lieutenant governor of Washington came down with bronchitis. He contemplated not summiting the top of the 19,340-foot dormant volcano. “No one was going to believe it’s not from bronchitis,” Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib said with a laugh. Motivated by the need to prove that a blind man could complete the summit, he pushed through. “The patronizing sense of pity is more powerful than vanity. That sense of ‘what am I going to tell them?’” Habib, a Rhodes Scholar, was elected to the Washington House of Representatives in 2012 and became a state senator in 2014. “My focus in the House and Senate was on entrepreneurship,” he said. “My district included the Microsoft campus.” Habib was able to serve a unique and economically diverse area of the state and said he was especially able to help his districts as someone with a disability. He had a childhood eye cancer that caused blindness and became blind a year before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990. “The biggest barrier I faced was the assumption and attitude of some of the grown-ups I encountered,” he said of his childhood. Habib recalls being in elementary school and school officials did not want him to play on the playground. “The school administration thought it was too dangerous for me,” he said. “My mom went to the school and took me with her so I would learn to advocate (for myself ).”

“She said, ‘he is going to learn his way around. I can fix a broken arm, but I can’t fix a broken spirit,’” Habib said. “I learned the importance of advocacy. I deserved to be included.” His mother’s advocacy impacted his life tremendously. “I still have this experience where people’s expectation of what I can do is not rooted in reality.”

“So many legislators have told me they didn’t think I would be able to do this,” he said. Habib believes more needs to be done regarding ADA to create full opportunity for all.

“I still have this experience where people’s expectation of what I can do is not rooted in reality.” Passionate about creating opportunity for all, he created Boundless Washington, an outdoor leadership program for young people with disabilities. Through the program, young people learn leadership and advocacy. Additionally, Habib said the disability community has a wide range of needs and preferences, and the ADA needs to catch up in areas of technology. “Recognize you’re dealing with someone who has been thinking outside the box for years.”.


His mom told school staff she would help her son learn his way around the playground.

In Washington, the lieutenant governor always serves as the senate president. When he assumed office, several people wanted to know how Habib would be able to call on other senators. Because of his disability, a touch screen was installed on the senate floor that sends a name in Braille to Habib.


celebrating 30 years of the ADA

SHELLEY HUGHES Senator • Alaska

Alaska state Sen. Shelley Hughes is known for telling it like it is, even when it comes to a cancer diagnosis. In 2017, Hughes went to her doctor for a routine mammogram and was later diagnosed with breast cancer. She decided to be upfront and honest with her constituents. “People appreciated my transparency and authenticity,” she said.

“It would be helpful for others, if the Department of Labor made sure people knew it,” she said. Hughes suggested that workplaces offer trainings on the benefits of the ADA in the instance that employees need help while undergoing cancer treatments. “I want everyone who is battling to get support,” she said.

Hughes surrounded herself with a support system and is Following her diagnosis, Hughes has worked to pass legnow three years cancer free. Like many, she was unaware of islation to make health care more affordable in Alaska. the benefits that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) can provide those who are limited due to a cancer diagno- “The cost (in Alaska) is the highest in the U.S. and in the sis. For example, a portion of the law includes allowing can- world,” she said. “It is impacting families and individuals cer patients to keep working during and after treatments. and needs to be addressed.”

ANTHONY PORTANTINO Senator • California


California state Sen. Anthony Portantino never imagined he would be in public office, especially as a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia.


“I was rather shy as a young person and I didn’t like to be the center of attention,” he said. “I never thought I would be a politician. When I started, I was uncomfortable and nervous public speaking.” As he grew up, he was able to hone those skills and now views his disabilities in a positive light. “You learn to compensate with other strategies,” Portantino said. “I can focus on five things at once. I call it my superpower.”

Portantino became a state senator in 2016 after serving from 2006 to 2012 in the California Assembly. As a child, Portantino said early intervention was something he could have benefitted from. This year, he authored Senate Bill 1174, which would require a dyslexia assessment of children between kindergarten and second grade. “Sixty percent of people in prison are dyslexic,” Portantino said. “The sooner we evaluate the individuals, the more we can do.” The Americans With Disabilities Act covers learning disabilities like dyslexia, and Portantino believes the ADA allows all people to embrace who they are. “It’s about allowing people to be who they are.”

30 state 30 leaders


Representative • Kentucky

Kentucky state Rep. Brandon Reed has cerebral palsy and experienced a traumatic brain injury in 2007. He hasn’t let these disabilities stop him, though — he has served in the Kentucky House since 2017. “While these were challenging circumstances, I’ve worked all of my life to overcome the adversity associated with them,” Reed told the Lebanon Enterprise. “Thanks to hard work, dedication and perseverance, I have been able to overcome tremendous obstacles and raise awareness for all that can be accomplished, no matter what difficulties life throws at you.”

JULIE MORRISON Senator • Illinois

In 2019, Reed joined Rep. Al Gentry to create the Engage and Empower Caucus, which advocates for people with disabilities in Kentucky. ““We may come from different parties and different parts of the state, but we all want to do what we can to bring the private and public sectors together in a way that truly benefits everyone,” Reed said to Spectrum News in 2019.

Ever the advocate, Illinois state Sen. Julie Morrison never stops fighting for the rights of people with disabilities. “People with disabilities are regular people whose challenges may be more apparent than others,” Morrison said in a 2019 press release on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. “I will continue to strive toward statewide inclusion and fight to provide those with disabilities more well-deserved rights and freedoms.”

Morrison is the chair of the Human Services Committee as well as the Special Needs Caucus, a bipartisan group that advocates for the needs of Illinois constituents with disabilities.


Morrison has authored several pieces of legislation that increased state employment of individuals with disabilities, created programs for trainees with disabilities for state agencies with more than 1,500 employees and required the state to conduct annual presentations to state agencies about hiring programs available to individuals with disabilities. She has also been an advocate for supportive housing for those with developmental disabilities.


celebrating 30 years of the ADA

MUFFY DAVIS Representative • Idaho

Her dreams of being an Olympic skier did not falter when Idaho state Rep. Muffy Davis was involved in a skiing accident 30 years ago. Rather, she simply shifted her dreams.

events. In 2012, she switched sports and during the 2012 London Paralympic Games she won three gold medals in handcycling events.

“I had a goal to be an Olympic skier, “she said. “Then I learned about the Paralympic Games, and I made it into the Paralympic Games.”

“After the 2016 election, I decided to get involved with local government,” she said.

Davis competed in the 1998 Paralympics in Japan and received a bronze medal for slalom. During the 2002 Winter Paralympics in Salt Lake City, she received three silver medals in the downhill, super-G and giant slalom

Davis became a member of the Idaho House of Representatives in 2018. She says the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) changed accessibility, comparing it to the Civil Rights Act in terms of its impact on people with disabilities.

JIMMY ANDERSON Representative • Wisconsin


Ten years ago, Jimmy Anderson never pictured himself in office — until his life drastically changed.


going to kick me off my plan because I had reached my lifetime maximum for benefits. I was terrified and had no idea how I could pay for the rest of my very much needed rehabilitation or wheelchair or anything.”

Anderson was then relieved when he received a letter a few days later stating the provisions of the Affordable “I truly never saw myself in politics,” Care Act had come into effect, eliminating lifetime limits. said the Wisconsin state representative. “I just ended up in a position where I saw how the system can grind “It was such an incredible relief, but it made me realize people down and wanted to change it.” how important it is to get involved, to care about policy outcomes,” he said. Anderson went back to school, Anderson was in a car accident, and a drunk driver took finished his law degree and started a nonprofit to help other victims of drunk driving, and then he ran for office. the lives of his mother, father and younger brother. Anderson was paralyzed from the chest down. In 2016, Anderson was elected to the Wisconsin legislature to represent Assembly District 47. He said his “I had just woken up from my spinal fusion surgery, havdisability has changed the way he approaches life as a ing suffered a true tragedy, and then I received a letter representative. from my health insurance company saying they were

30 leaders Davis says she has been blessed by legislation three times. She was born in 1972, the same year Title IX was signed into law. The Paralympic Committee, on which she currently serves, was formed in 1989. Finally, in 1990, the ADA was signed into law. “I call it the blessing of adversity,” she said. “I’ve learned to think differently. You learn how to adapt and still make it work.” Davis says the ADA laid the foundation for access, and the next step for inclusion will be addressing unconscious bias. Her hope for the future is that people will see her ability first. “I think the first thing anyone sees is that I’m in a wheelchair,” she said. “I want the first thing they see to be what I can do.”

“It definitely adds some difficult hurdles that you have to overcome. It takes me a little extra time to do things, whether it is writing a brief or reviewing an amendment to a piece of legislation. I also have to rely on others a bit more than your typical elected official. “The people in my office, Gillian McBride and Alyssa Donrath, have been really amazing when it comes to helping me with constituent outreach or corresponding with the administration or interest groups. I couldn’t do this work without them,” he said. While in office, Anderson said he requested certain accommodations to be met for his disability. He is still awaiting some changes to be made. However, he said the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has helped with some of those accommodations.

Anderson said his disability helps him advocate for others who may not be able to advocate for themselves. “My disability also adds a degree of responsibility,” he said. “There are people who see a little of themselves in me as somebody who is visibly disabled. It gives them hope that they too can one day run for office or be in a position of leadership. It also requires me to be the voice for those who often feel voiceless, to champion the many issues that impact disabled people here in Wisconsin. I’m lucky to have groups like Disability Rights Wisconsin and the Independent Living Council of Wisconsin who lead the way on disability issues and [give] me advice on how to address those issues at the state level.”


“The Americans with Disabilities Act has been pivotal when it comes to my being able to serve in office. Whether it is gaining physical access to the building of my office or receiving accommodations like voice recognition software, the ADA makes it possible for me to do my work. Not only that, but it also places the requirement on businesses to make sure that I can go to their restaurants or shop at their stores. It requires public transportation to provide me access. The list goes on and on. Without the ADA, my world would be incredibly small.”

“Whether it is gaining physical access to the building of my office or receiving accommodations like voice recognition software, the ADA makes it possible for me to do my work.”


celebrating 30 years of the ADA


Representative • Illinois Illinois state Rep. Greg Harris knows what it’s like to feel discrimination because of a disability. “I had gotten involved with community organizing when HIV came along,” he said. “You can’t sit back and wait for someone else to take action.” Harris was elected to the Illinois General Assembly in 2006 and is currently the majority leader of the House of Representatives. He is the first openly gay person in Illinois to become a member of legislative leadership. He also lives with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Harris was motivated to get involved after he saw friends get sick and die. He said he saw discrimination during the HIV/AIDS crisis of the early 1990s. “I wasn’t put out of my house because of it, but I know people who were,” he said. Harris, who also experiences depression, appreciates the groundwork laid by the ADA. “I wish people would push for broader access to health care,” he said.


Some of Harris’s most pressing concerns center around discrimination. He cites Illinois as being one of the first states to take action against discrimination.


“The City of Chicago and State of Illinois prohibited discrimination against people,” he said. “That’s now been folded into broader protections.” Harris is a member of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Leadership Council and the joint Legislative Health Insurance Exchange Committee. He is the chairman on the Violence Prevention Task Force and is a member of the Racial and Ethnic Impact Research Task Force, the Quality of Life Board and the House Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment.

GREG ABBOTT Governor • Texas

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was elected in 2014 to serve as the 48th governor of the state. Prior to his election, Abbott was the longest serving attorney general for the state. Abbott became partially paralyzed in July 1984 after a limb of an oak tree fell on him while he was out running. Two steel rods were inserted in his back. Abbott often cites his back of steel that helps him fight for Texas families. Abbott points to his perseverance for helping him recover and become governor. “After my accident, I had to rebuild my strength. I would roll up an eight-story parking garage — spending hours going up the ramps. With each floor, it got harder and harder. But I wouldn’t quit. Just one more, I would tell myself, just one more. I see life that way,” Abbott said during his campaign for governor.

30 leaders

KIM SCHOFIELD Representative • Georgia

Georgia state Rep. Kim Schofield is proof that sometimes “I started educating peoheroes really do wear capes. Donning a purple cape for awareness, Schofield unites Georgia’s state legislature for ple on these diseases and the cause of lupus research and support. how to create Schofield was diagnosed with lupus in 2000 after a visit space protecting to her optometrist, who then referred her to her primary someone who has an invisible disability,” care physician. she said. “My sight was disappearing,” she said. “The doctor That same year, Schofield began approaching every thought it was arthritis in my eye.” legislator in Georgia to talk about lupus and gain supHer doctor then referred her to a rheumatologist. She port for research. In 2014, she helped create the Georgia Council on Lupus Education and Awareness, an orgaleft the doctor’s office confused, with several medicanization to create better research opportunities and tions and a pamphlet on lupus. more positive outcomes for lupus patients. In 2017, she “I knew nothing about it except that this was pretty seriwas approached to run for office and decided to take a ous, and I could die from this. Within three months, I had chance. She was elected to the Georgia House of Repreto be taken out of work,” she said. sentatives for District 60 serving the Metro Atlanta area. Having little knowledge about the autoimmune disease, Schofield began to research and understand her illness.

Throughout her journey, she said the Americans with Disabilities Act has given her a voice.

“When you have lupus, your immune system is overactive,” she said. “Every morning you wake up feeling like you have the flu.”

“An invisible disease such as lupus doesn’t make me less valuable,” she said. “I hope to make a difference by adjusting what a sick person looks like.

Frustrated with the scarcity of resources on lupus, Schofield began a lupus support group that operated out of her church. The support group eventually joined with the Lupus Chapter of Georgia.

From 2008 to 2019, Schofield served as the Advocacy Chair for the Georgia Chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America and for more than 10 years has done pivotal work to help the over 55,000 Georgians living with and impacted by lupus.

In 2008, Schofield began working as a lupus researcher, focusing on incidence and prevalence of lupus and population-based data collection at Emory University in the Georgia Lupus Clinic.

An invisible disease such as lupus doesn’t make me less valuable. I hope to make a difference by adjusting what a sick person looks like.


Schofield says the biggest struggle of living with lupus Her mission to be a voice for those with lupus hasn’t is that people do not believe she is sick because lupus changed. is an invisible illness. Schofield encountered several obstacles at work because coworkers did not believe she “Lupus is my anchor and has helped me raise awareness was actually ill. to educate about hidden and invisible diseases.” “I had to fight. I am a human being that didn’t ask to be sick,” she said.


celebrating 30 years of the ADA


Director of DHS Division of Rehabilitation Services • Illinois In her Twitter bio, Rahnee Patrick describes herself as a “disabled Thai-White woman who lives out loud.” Her life has indeed been dedicated to living life out loud and to the fullest. Patrick serves as the director of the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Rehabilitation Services. “The work I’m doing now, my experience comes from being a customer.” Patrick has psoriasis, arthritis and depression. She began using vocational services to find employment at 16. “They helped me get through college,” she said. “I have seen how the delivery of government services has helped customers.” Patrick found herself having to overcome barriers, and she began to believe what others thought of her.


Representative • Louisiana


Louisiana state Rep. Larry Bagley knows all too well the trauma that can occur from a loved one’s battle with mental health conditions. His wife had bipolar disorder and depression. Over the years, her symptoms worsened, which led to her suicide.


“It leaves everybody so much pain,” he told the Advocate in 2018. Her struggle with mental illness led him to support laws such as HB148, which created a state suicide prevention plan and increased awareness of mental health. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers mental health conditions when they meet certain criteria. Bagley advocates for those who need help for mental health conditions.

“People with disabilities sometimes are invisible. We are here with similar interests, passions and contributions to be made.” “People felt that I needed to be protected and felt that I couldn’t support myself,” she said. “Even I bought into that.” Other barriers she faced included the lack of insurance coverage for her disabilities. “I needed to get help because private insurance doesn’t cover the service I needed. I want to work and provide for myself.” Patrick found that the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) created opportunity. “The ADA made a difference for me,” she said of the law passed between her sophomore and junior year of high school. “I didn’t have protections in place. ADA has really helped people be able to work and it helps us to be able to participate in public office. We aren’t included in everything.” She recalls a conference she wanted to attend in high school. She wanted to take a bicycle because it provided an option for transportation that was comfortable, but the conference officials said no. Patrick recognized the lack of protections in place that made it more difficult for her to attend the conference comfortably. Today, she works to be an advocate for people with disabilities to live out loud. “I have a large network of people with disabilities — they’re still advocates,” she said. “I think having access to that feedback allows us to adjust to the needs of our customer base. “People with disabilities sometimes are invisible. We are here with similar interests, passions and contributions to be made.”

30 leaders

EMILY RANDALL Senator • Washington

When the buses at her junior high school parked in front of the wheelchair accessibility ramp, Emily Randall immediately approached her principal to stop the buses from parking there so that her little sister, Olivia, could access the school. “I used my big sister leadership skills to go into the principal’s office to make sure the buses wouldn’t block the ramp again,” said the Washington state senator. Since then, Randall has made it her life mission to advocate for others. Her experience advocating for Olivia made her particularly passionate for advocating for people with disabilities.. “My sister has a severe disability, and that shaped what I thought service looked like.”

“They don’t need someone to be their voice. What they need is someone to amplify it.” Randall was working in the nonprofit sector before she felt she needed to do more. She was elected to the Washington state senate in 2018.

She said the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) codified equity for those with disabilities, a cause she is still working for today. “I continue to see the long-lasting work around ADA. I have the great honor of working alongside and advocating even prior to the passage of ADA for greater equity.” Randall was influenced heavily by the work of her mother. “I learned so much from my mom and see her as an inspiring woman,” she said.

Advocating for Olivia taught her how to prioritize voices that often go unheard.

While growing up, Randall watched her mom navigate through the piles of paperwork that often accompany people with disabilities as they try and secure health care or medical needs — an area Randall says needs some work.

Randall works hard as a legislator to center the voices of people with disabilities.

“In our state, we are one of the lowest in investments in our disabled community,” she said. “More needs to be done.”


“It was time to step up and do more and make sure the people falling through the cracks didn’t fall more,” Randall said.

“They don’t need someone to be their voice,” Randall said. “What they need is someone to amplify it.”


celebrating 30 years of the ADA

AL GENTRY Representative • Kentucky

When Kentucky Gentry saw a similar pattern in 2016, when he was state Rep. Al elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives. Gentry lost his Multiple groups advocated for people with disabilities arm in an acacross the Commonwealth — how could they be unicident in 1993, fied? That question led to the formation of the Engage he couldn’t have and Empower caucus, a bipartisan effort to improve predicted that golf communication and address needs for Kentuckians would be a path to with disabilities. healing — or that it could relate to public service. “I never campaigned on disability issues, but I was there about six weeks before I realized I needed to get inGentry was injured while working as a geologist at a volved,” Gentry said. “I was meeting with anybody and construction site. He credits golf, a sport he had played everybody. I thought, ‘How in the world can we bring from childhood through college, with bolstering his these folks together and have a larger voice?’” confidence during recovery. As he got involved with athletics for people with disabilities, he noticed that Open to every Kentucky legislator and structured to various groups struggled to coordinate their efforts. remain bipartisan, the Engage and Empower Caucus Seeing a need for greater cooperation, Gentry helped focuses includes four subcommittees that cover issues create a national organization to help make the game from health care and insurance to building access to of golf more inclusive. legislative review.

GARNET COLEMAN Representative • Texas


Garnet Coleman had long struggled with depression. But it was a few years into his tenure as a Texas state representative before he was able to find ways to manage the extreme highs and deep lows he felt.


“I knew if I didn’t do something different than what I was doing, I was going to commit suicide,” Coleman said. In 1995, Coleman was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He was elected in 1991 to the Texas House of Representatives. He described his behavior as productive. “I never knew I had highs,” he said of his intensely focused behavior at work. “I just knew I had lows.”

He sought out treatment and struggled at first with the changes that medication created in his life. “The hardest thing for people with bipolar is when I first was taking lithium, I felt like a dishrag,” Coleman said. “When I was flattening out a mood, it makes you feel flat.” Coleman describes himself as passionate — his passion for the people of Texas has allowed him to work for better mental health and human services options and resources in Texas as part of the Appropriations Committee.

30 leaders “Our number one issue overall is that we want to be able to expand the communication pipeline between those who advocate for different groups and the state legislature so we can more efficiently and effectively pass legislation or amend legislation that addresses the real issues that are out there for people with disabilities,” Gentry said. “We hope new legislators can serve on caucus and that it will be something long-term and long lasting.” Gentry says the impact of the ADA goes far beyond the building accessibility guidelines most people think of, like wheelchair ramps. Instead, it’s about inclusion — and that’s what excites him most about the Engage and Empower Caucus. “The biggest thing we can all learn is that just because you have a disability, it doesn’t mean you’re something less,”

Gentry said. “You do have strengths, too, and we can recognize that as a society and provide opportunities so that you can use your strength to the best of your ability. Everybody around you will have a better life because you will be a glowing example of what it takes.” Still deeply involved in sports for people with disabilities, Gentry says athletics can teach powerful lessons about persistence, confidence and courage that apply to daily life as much as they do to the golf course. “Sports is so much like life,” Gentry said. “It’s a series of ups and downs — not a matter of if you get knocked down, but when. It’s a matter of ‘Are you going to get back up?’ It’s something you can work on, practice, perfect, see yourself improving, and that generates confidence and self-esteem to do more.”

“The biggest thing we can all learn is that just because you have a disability, it doesn’t mean you’re something less. You do have strengths, too, and we can recognize that as a society and provide opportunities so that you can use your strength to the best of your ability. Everybody around you will have a better life because you will be a glowing example of what it takes.”

“Insurance policies still don’t cover mental illness,” he said. “The best thing to do to help people with mental illness is to give them health coverage. Period.” Coleman credits the Affordable Care Act (ADA) and resources through the Americans With Disabilities Act as ways constituents are able to receive needed care.

Coleman said the ADA brings people “out of the shadows,” and he has been vocal about his diagnosis since he received it. “Once you know you have a diagnosis, you are able to get better,” he said. “It’s like you have an injury to your leg and you get it fixed and you can run faster.”


“Resources are better since the passage of ADA, but it depends on what state you live in. A lot of people are disabled and can’t get the care they need.”


celebrating 30 years of the ADA

CAROL BEATTY Secretary of Disabilities • Maryland

Secretary Carol Beatty doesn’t know a day without advocating for the disability community. Her 40- year career began as a direct support professional in residential programs for people with intellectual disabilities and includes 21 years as executive director for a local chapter of The Arc, the nation’s largest community-based organization advocating for and with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In March 2015, Beatty was appointed by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to serve as the Maryland’s Secretary of The Department of Disabilities.

Beatty’s parents always encouraged her to try out any activities. Growing up in a family that valued sports and physical activity, she played softball, basketball and golf. While other children could be unkind at times, Beatty always had support and encouragement from the family and friends surrounding her. “My parents didn’t see my disability; they saw my abilities.” Beatty said polio left her with a lifelong physical disability and today she has post-polio syndrome, a condition that impacts polio survivors later in life. “It can impact adults in very different ways. Polio survivors who experience gradual weakening in muscles are able to use mobility and other assistive technology devices to remain active and independent.”


For people with intellectual and other disabilities, “I have spent my entire career working on behalf of and there has been significant positive change since the with people with intellectual and other disabilities,” late 70s when Beatty began her career. she said. “I want to empower people with disabilities to live meaningful lives in their communities.” “People started moving out of institutions and back to their communities. The passage of the Americans with She also has a disability, having contracted polio Disabilities Act in 1990 provided even more opportuduring one of the last outbreaks before the common nities. The ADA ensures people with disabilities have equal access and celebrates that we are friends, neighuse of the vaccine in the 1950s.



Assemblywoman • New Jersey

New Jersey Assemblywoman Carol Murphy understands firsthand the struggle so many families face when they have a loved one with an illness or disability. Murphy spent time caring for her father, who died of Agent Orange exposure, and her mother, who she lost to Alzheimer’s disease. Murphy also cared for her sister as she battled lupus. Murphy’s work as a caregiver inspired her leadership in the New Jersey State Assembly. She sponsored Assembly Bill 6075, “Lindsay’s Law,” which provides tax

30 leaders bors, coworkers and family members and contribute to the richness of the community, state and country.” As Secretary of The Maryland Department of Disabilities, Beatty’s responsibilities include advising Gov. Larry Hogan and his administration on increasing opportunities, access and choice for people with disabilities in Maryland. “The ADA was a hallmark piece of legislation, but it is living and breathing. Since 1990, it has been the pathway to equal access and opportunity for people with disabilities in communities and states. Although much progress has been made, there is still much work to be done including the ability to participate in the digital society.”

“The ADA ensures people with disabilities have equal access and celebrates that we are friends, neighbors, coworkers and family members and contribute to the richness of the community, state and country.”

STEPHEN SWEENEY Senator • New Jersey

New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney says his 27-year-old daughter, Lauren, might be a better politician than he is. He recalls a time when another lawmaker called him to discuss governmental issues of the day. That lawmaker had to speak to Lauren before he would engage in business with the senator. Sweeney’s daughter has Down syndrome, and her ability to lead a full life has inspired and shaped Sweeney’s goals. “I want people to be gainfully employed and look beyond the disability to the person,” he said. Sweeney championed a bill in 2019 that allows businesses to receive a tax credit if they hired workers with disabilities. Sweeney said the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is one of the first pieces of legislation to guarantee access and opportunity for his daughter. “The ADA was a game changer,” he said. “It put the disabled community front and center. It was one of the greatest pieces of legislation to happen.”

“It put the disabled community front and center. It was one of the greatest pieces of legislation to happen.”

She has also sponsored other laws to help people with disabilities, including Assembly Bill 1272, which focused on changing the way the Division of Developmental Disabilities provides services by expanding community-based support.

Today, Sweeney’s focus is on Lauren and creating housing for individuals with disabilities in New Jersey. He wants affordable housing options for those with varying needs. “My daughter might be different, but she is living as full a life as you can,” he said. Sweeney continues to advocate for those with disabilities because of the influence of his daughter. “Lauren has a relationship with everyone,” he said. “My goal is to ensure she has an enriched and fulfilled life.”


benefits to organ and bone marrow donors and their employers and provides paid time off to donors who are state or local government employees. Murphy tried to donate a kidney to her sister but was unfortunately not a match.


celebrating 30 years of the ADA

CHRISTINE TARTAGLIONE Senator • Pennsylvania

For Pennsylvania state Sen. Christine Tartaglione, empathy is a powerful teacher. That’s why she organizes an annual Disabilities Awareness Day at the Pennsylvania Capitol. With dozens of participating organizations, the event offers opportunities to simulate the experience of a person with physical disabilities. “I encourage my colleagues to take part — spend a day in a wheelchair; spend a day trying not to be able to see or hear,” Tartaglione said. “They start to see things in a different light. Their first question is always, ‘Is the location handicap accessible?’” Tartaglione was paralyzed in 2003 following a boating accident. While preparing to fish at the Jersey shore, she found herself launched off the deck into the air. Another boat, moving too fast and piloted under the influence of alcohol, had rammed into the side of Tartaglione’s boat. Her fall crushed two vertebrae, leaving her partially paralyzed. Looking back, she wishes she could give her younger self some advice: “Take a deep breath. You’ll get through this. Life will go on.”




Executive Director of the Governor's Commitee on People with Disabilities • Texas As executive director of the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities, Ron Lucey manages a five-member staff with goals that include providing information and resources to people with disabilities and advising the governor on disability issues. In his current role, he is able to effectively advocate for the rights of Texans with disabilities.

At the time, Tartaglione was one of Pennsylvania’s youngest senators — energetic, hopeful, full of questions. The healing process was difficult, both physically and emotionally, but she soon learned she could provide crucial leadership in disability issues. Today, as the fifth woman elected to the Pennsylvania state Senate and the state’s only senator in a wheelchair, Tartaglione hopes she can be an inspiration for others. “I got into disabilities issues because it took me a long time to get through those stages of grief,” she said. “I believe God wants me to be an advocate for physically challenged people, because I’m in a position to do it, so I’m okay with it.” Tartaglione doesn’t think about her injury until there’s something she can’t do, or a building she can’t access. She says the Americans with Disabilities Act was a good place to start, but it’s not the finish line. “It’s making my life easier every single day, but it’s been 30 years and we’ve still got a long way to go,” she said. In additional to her personal leadership, Tartaglione works closely with the Pennsylvania Governor’s Cabinet and Advisory Committee for People with Disabilities and networks to help provide solutions and “cut red tape” for people with disabilities. While she encourages people to understand the perspective of people with disabilities, she points out that it’s all too easy to simply overlook concerns like accessibility. Having the benefit of a changed perspective herself, before and after her accident, she encourages others to make the leap. “It’s never easy to step into someone else’s shoes, and it makes people uncomfortable. Just try to take the blinders off and look at that individual and see what they have to go through on a daily basis, and your opinion is going to change.”

30 leaders

DAN MCCONCHIE Senator • Illinois

Sen. Dan McConchie has transformed the Illinois Senate from the inside out. McConchie became a wheelchair user in 2007 after being injured in a hit-and-run accident. In 2016, he was elected to office, and since then he has been a trailblazer. “Those of us with significant physical disabilities in public life bring a unique experience to the governing table. our insight reinforces why having diversity in democracy is so important to ensure no group of people is left behind.” McConchie has found ways around some of the obstacles he has faced. “Due to their age, government buildings tend to not be very accessible,” he said. “I was on a joint task force, and we were assigned a committee room. Except no one but me realized it was not accessible for me. These kinds of ongoing barriers to access remain a significant issue for our participatory democracy.” McConchie said the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was a start for creating access and opportunities for people with disabilities, but more needs to be done. “ADA was a great step forward for people,” he said. “But even now, 30 years later, I still run into accessibility issues almost every day.”

“The difference was this venue had created an advisory group of people with a variety of disabilities,” he said. “The

Inspired by this, he co-authored a bill to create an ADA Compliance Commission in Illinois. The purpose of the commission would be to review designs requiring ADA compliance and to offer feedback. “It would allow for an architect or builder to bring their plans to people with various disabilities for their suggestions on how to make accessibility better. No single person can foresee all the barriers to access. I want to create a statewide advisory board to help ensure every single person, regardless of disability, has access.” Before his accident, McConchie said his interaction with individuals with disabilities was limited. Now that he has a disability himself, he understands firsthand many of the issues that exist and works to create more opportunities for access. “I want Illinois to be a national leader in helping the country go beyond the basics of ADA and begin to provide real, equal access for all on a voluntary and collaborative basis. This isn’t hard. It just takes focus.”


McConchie recalls a time he attended an area festival. After calling to ensure it was accessible, he attended the festival, only to be disappointed at the lack of accessibility. He called the venue again, and their lawyer would simply state that they complied with all ADA laws and requirements. So he stopped going. Years later, he ended up back at that venue and found the place transformed from an accessibility standpoint. He wanted to know what had changed.

venue made changes annually based on their feedback. Now it’s a great place to go, and I don’t hesitate to go and participate.”


celebrating 30 years of the ADA Vulcan, the world’s tallest cast iron statue, stands on a hill overlooking Birmingham, Alabama. For some, the statue evokes the city’s industrial past. For Dr. Graham Sisson, it’s also an illustration of what he’s been saying for decades: Accessibility is a win for everyone.

GRAHAM SISSON Executive Director Alabama Governor's Office on Disability

As executive director of the Alabama Governor’s Office on Disability (GOOD), a deputy attorney general for the state of Alabama and the state’s ADA coordinator, Sisson has devoted his career to advocating for people with disabilities. When a recent renovation of the Vulcan statue sought to remove an unsightly elevator, he negotiated with the parties involved to build a new elevator in a less conspicuous position. Far from being a detraction, the elevator was a hit. “Most people don’t use the stairs; most people are going to use the elevator,” Sisson said. “It’s one of those things that’s made it even more of an attraction. That’s the ideal situation — where the Americans with Disabilities Act can work, where it’s not an undue burden, and you can actually come up with something that’s even better than what you had before.”

LOU D’ALLESANDRO Senator • New Hampshire


A New Hampshire state senator since 1998, Lou D’Allesandro knows role models are important. That’s why he introduced his then 10-year-old grandson, Anthony Smith, to the New Hampshire Senate last year. State leaders, he says, need to meet more heroes like Anthony.


Born with multiple disabilities, including a hearing impairment, Anthony has inspired many. When Anthony complained to his mom, Christine, that superheroes “don’t wear hearing aids,” she reached out to Marvel Comics for help. “[I told her] if Anthony wore his hearing aids — which he called Blue Ear since they were made of blue plastic — we’d make him an honorary Avenger,” Marvel Custom Solutions Creative Director Bill Rosemann recalled

30 leaders The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 has been a touch- accessibility in a host of ways, from providing technical stone throughout Sisson’s personal life and career. In 1982, assistance to providing information about ADA compliance two days before he was scheduled to report to Cadet Basic to ensuring that government communication provides Training at West Point, he was hit by a drunk driver while a accessible options. passenger. He woke up from an eight-week coma to find that “It excites me that I get to actually make a difference,” Sisson he was paralyzed from the waist down. Sisson attended the University of North Alabama, serving as student government said. “When I help to make sure something is accessible, a building is constructed in the correct way, make sure that association president and graduating with honors. During people with disabilities are included, that’s exciting to me, law school at Vanderbilt, Sisson wrote his third-year thesis because I immediately get to see a good, positive result on the ADA, which was signed into law the month after he from that.” graduated. “I was introduced to [the ADA] very quickly and did a lot of research on it,” Sisson said. “It means a lot. It’s the premier civil rights law, I think, for people with disabilities, and it’s all about mainstreaming and inclusion, which mean a lot to me — having the same opportunities as anyone else, despite having a disability.”

Disability advocacy is a constant effort, Sisson said. One lesson he’s learned — open communication and consensus building are powerful means of change.

“The most effective tool is not necessarily suing an entity because they don’t comply with the ADA,” Sisson said. “I think the best way is to try to create understanding and Both in private law practice and in government roles, Sisson awareness. In other words, don’t do it because the law says has dedicated his life to advocating for people with disyou have to do it — do it because it’s the right thing to do. abilities. As executive director of GOOD, Sisson advances It’s a win-win situation.”

in 2014. Blue Ear, the new character based on Anthony, starred in a book called “Sound Effects,” which was released in October 2014. Anthony continues to inspire, and in May 2018 he was awarded the Hear-O Award by The Children’s Hearing Institute in New York. Inspired by his grandson, D’Allesandro has become even more involved in disability issues, working closely with the New Hampshire Governor’s Commission on Disability and supporting the Greenfield, New Hampshire-based Crotched Mountain Foundation, which helps children, students and adults achieve maximum independence.

Representative • Pennsylvania

Rep. Dan Miller of Pennsylvania has a storied career of advocating for others. He has worked as a firefighter, public defender and teacher. “In the mid-2000s, a bunch of youth were getting arrested who were on the autism spectrum,” he said. “My initial advocacy came out of experiences seeing how difficult it was for young people with a diagnosis to get traction to build into a life we would all hope for.” Miller has noticed how life has improved for individuals with disabilities since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. “The ADA is one of the seminal pieces of civil rights legislation, and the shocking thing is it isn’t that old,” he said. “In a lot of ways, people take it for granted.” Miller said the ADA has created opportunity for all. “It’s about inclusion and fullness of life,” he said. “There’s more to do.”


“The kid is a miracle in and of himself,” D’Allesandro said. “His superhero stature really has been inspiring to people all over the world. He gets emails from people all over the world who had inhibitions about letting people know they had limited hearing, and kids who would not wear hearing aids are now wearing hearing aids.”



celebrating 30 years of the ADA There was no escaping reality, however — for Newsom, reading would be a lifelong challenge. In school, he dreaded being called on to read aloud. He remembers one incident, around the fifth grade, where he was called on to read and everyone laughed. High school and the SAT proved even more challenging, as Newsom’s anxiety about reading, math and test-taking increased. Thanks to his mother’s persistence, extra classes and a scholarship to play baseball, Newsom attended Santa Clara University, where he discovered a love for politics.

GAVIN NEWSOM Governor • California


California Gov. Gavin Newsom knows all too well that some disabilities are less visible than others. Though he was diagnosed with dyslexia at five years old, Newsom didn’t find out about his disability until fifth grade, when he discovered paperwork about dyslexia in his mother’s office.


“That really hit home, and it explained why everyone else was running into their parents’ arms after school and I was stuck in that shack behind the school every Monday, Wednesday and Friday with four or five other students,” Newsom told the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity (YCDC). During a 2017 conversation with Ryan Quinn Smith, a child actor who also has dyslexia, Newsom explained that his mother had tried to prevent him from being stigmatized. “She didn’t want me to give up by saying, ‘Well, I have this thing,’” Newsom said. “That’s what she thought was the right thing.”

“Baseball gave me some self-esteem and confidence, and then I found my bliss and my passion in politics,” Newsom told YCDC. “All of a sudden I got good grades, because I loved the subject matter. What I found was that there was a contemporary nature to politics, not political theory necessarily, but what was going on in real life, and as difficult as it was to learn about it, I actually cared enough about it to work a little harder. So, I started looking at newspapers like textbooks, and to this day, I’ll still underline newspapers because, otherwise, I can read five pages and not remember one thing I read.” After building a hospitality management business, Newsom entered politics in 1996, serving on San Francisco’s Parking and Traffic Commission. In 2003, he became the youngest mayor of San Francisco. He was elected lieutenant governor of California in 2010 and assumed the office of governor on Jan. 7, 2019. Today, Newsom still finds creative ways to cope with dyslexia, including extensive practice and memorization when it comes to speeches — he estimates an hour of preparation for each minute of a speech — and he credits dyslexia with strengthening his memorization skills and ability to “think on his feet.” Newsom says that without his mother’s hard work to provide extra support, like after-school classes and summer programs, he would not have succeeded. As governor, he wants to ensure those supports are available to everyone, especially those who can’t afford to pay for extra resources. “That’s the overwhelming majority of people with a learning disability and attention deficit and all kinds of learning issues — that they don’t get that support. And they’re extraordinarily gifted people. They just need to discover that, and they need the help to discover that. That’s why it’s so important. We can’t allow that talent to go unmined […]”.

30 leaders

JENNIFER LONGDON Representative • Arizona “As we pulled into that parking lot, we’re still in that ‘best-vacation-ever, we’re-getting-married’ romantic bliss,” Arizona state Rep. Jennifer Longdon told Rolling Stone magazine. “Life couldn’t have been any more perfect in that moment. And then there was this really loud sound.” Longdon and her then-fiancé were severely injured during a drive-by shooting in 2004, just days after setting a wedding date. The perpetrator was never caught. Her fiancé suffered brain injuries and was left blind. Longdon was paralyzed from the mid-chest down. Since that time, Longdon has become a tireless advocate for people with disabilities. She was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in 2018. “I’ve always been part of trying to make positive policy changes to impact the [disablility] community,” Longdon told Forbes. “And I ended up in a position where there was a seat open, and my state legislature in my district and I decided to run. I decided that I had to see disability represented because, you know, I see strong advocates working at different areas of diversity, but disability is not at that table. And because there is no one with a disability talking, you know, our point of view is missing.” Longdon organized a bipartisan meeting that led to the formation of the House Ad Hoc Committee on the Abuse and Neglect of Vulnerable Adults and has championed many disability issues, including worker protections, funding for a statewide ADA coordinator, supported decision making and housing solutions for people with developmental disabilities.

“I challenge you to ask, ‘Why is that there? How can we fix it? How do we create community for everyone and give a seat at the table to every person? How do we recognize the human-ness in everybody and create truly inclusive space?’”

Executive Director of the Governor's Office of Management and Budget • Utah It’s not enough for state governments to serve their constituents, said Kristen Cox, executive director of the Utah Governor’s Office of Management and Budget. They should also reflect the people they serve including people with disabilities. Cox, who is blind, previously served as executive director of the Utah Department of Workforce Services and secretary of Maryland’s first cabinet-level Department of Disabilities. She was also appointed by former President George W. Bush to serve as special assistant to the commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) and worked in government affairs for the National Federation of the Blind. Cox appreciates the accessibility mandated by the ADA, from physical access to signage to websites, a foundation on which further access and inclusion can be built.

“While the blind and people with disabilities still strive for full access and inclusion, the ADA gives us the foundation to achieve this goal,” Cox said. “A mentor of mine once told me, ‘Equal rights requires equal responsibility.’ I believe it is incumbent on me to do all I can do to contribute to society while also advocating that society gives me the opportunity to contribute.”


As a leader and advocate, Longdon is committed promoting accessibility, both in terms of architecture and in terms of attitudes. to During a 2015 TED Talk, Longdon asked her listeners to “look for those places where ableism creeps in and creates barriers.”



celebrating 30 years of the ADA


D’Arcangelo went to college, which took him longer to complete in part because of losing his eyesight, and then decided to focus on a career in public service, a vocational path that is in his blood.

Assemblywoman • California

California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez is an outspoken advocate for those with learning disabilities. As someone with dyslexia, Gonzalez believes in educating others on how her brain reads and understands. In December, she tweeted, “*A word about dyslexia* My brain works differently. When I write things — if the phone or just my thumb causes typos — my mind doesn’t necessarily register them. I see exactly what I thought I was writing. My brain shortcuts words & phrases. So, please excuse the posts w/typos.” Gonzalez is the first Latina in California history to chair the Assembly Appropriations Committee. She is also chairwoman of the Select Committee on Women in the Workplace and chair of the Latino Caucus.

DAVID D’ARCANGELO Commisioner of the Mass. Commission for the Blind • Massachusetts


The commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind (MCB) might be legally blind, but he has a dynamic vision for people with disabilities.


“The path to prosperity is paved with perseverance,” said Commissioner David D’Arcangelo, who was born with X-linked juvenile retinoschisis and is legally blind. Having a detached retina, experiencing periods of time with no sight and continually dealing with vitreous hemorrhages, D’Arcangelo’s perspective affords him an appreciation of what persistence brings. “My family and friends did their best to ensure that my experiences were as diverse as possible, which helped fuel my independence and self-determination,” he said.

“My father was a public servant and his commitment to helping people is something we always shared.”

D’Arcangelo’s public service career includes working for six governors, serving several years as an aide in the state Senate and being involved in many other mission-driven organizations. He also served as a councilor-at-large in the City of Malden for three terms. Then in 2014, D’Arcangelo ran for secretary of state in Massachusetts, which may make him one of the only candidates to openly identify as a person with a disability and reach a statewide ballot in Massachusetts.

While he was not elected as secretary, D’Arcangelo was offered the opportunity to be the director of the Massachusetts Office on Disability (MOD). Now serving as the commissioner for MCB, he relishes his role of furthering access and opportunities for people with disabilities and values the importance of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). “The ADA is the most important civil rights law passed for people with disabilities,” he said. “My focus and passion is to bring access and opportunities for people with disabilities.” D’Arcangelo believes that employment opportunities for people with disabilities is vital, and while he credits the ADA for progress, he knows that there is still much work to be done. “With nearly two-thirds of all working age people with disabilities not in the labor force, we still have much work to do,” he said. Being blind has taught D’Arcangelo to think creatively to accomplish the tasks before him. “Let’s choose to focus upon what people can do. I genuinely believe that we can improve the human condition and make positive gains for all of our people.”

30 leaders

DARREN JERNIGAN Representative • Tennessee

Rep. Darren Jernigan became paralyzed in June 1990 after he suffered a broken neck in an automobile accident. He was a sophomore in college. “Becoming paralyzed at 20 years old, I pretty much started my career with paralysis,” Jernigan said. “I have always had the attitude that I possess a disability and that it does not possess me.” The disability did not stop him. Jernigan took two years off for rehabilitation but then returned to school to finish his degree, double majoring in political science and public relations. Jernigan went on to work for the U.S. Department of State and Congress. He worked at the Veterans Administration and ultimately received his master’s degree in May 2000. Jernigan got his political start in 2002, when he was elected the Metro Nashville Davidson County Democratic Committeeman for his district. In 2007, he was elected to the Metro Council for Nashville Davidson County representing District 11. He served for six years before resigning in January 2014. In 2012, Jernigan ran for a seat to serve in the Tennessee State House of Representatives for District 60 and won. Jernigan says his paralysis is part of who he is.

“Having a disability is a part of who I am, and my wheelchair is simply an extension of my body.” “It could be as little as meeting someone for lunch at a restaurant with a ramp to something more significant, as asking HR for a reasonable accommodation in the workplace,” he said. His disability allows him to serve all Tennesseans and especially those with disabilities.


“I have passed a plethora of legislation concerning disability “Having a disability is a part of who I am, and my wheelchair is related issues and have worked to educate my colleagues on simply an extension of my body,” he said. “I have never tried to the importance of recognizing an often-overlooked segment hide my disability in politics and have always trusted the people to make the decision on their own if they feel I am capable.” of our population,” he said. “I’m good at advocating by example. Being successful as a person with a severe disability Jernigan became paralyzed a month before the passage of sometimes can speak for itself. I feel I can empathize with peothe Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). ple who have disabilities facing obstacles they bring to my attention, as I have experienced much of the same hurdles.” “When it passed, I had only been in the hospital for a month and hospital staff kept telling me what a major deal it was,” Jernigan believes that the public should pay more attenJernigan said. “And they were right. If I had to boil the ADA tion to the ADA and the impact it makes. down to one word it would be ‘access.’ Access to employment, “Every person reading this, or someone they love, will likely transportation, technology, public and private programs and become disabled in their lifetime,” he said. “Either by old services, public businesses, communications and an overall age, disease or a traumatic event, it will happen, and they incorporation of people with disabilities into society.” will be grateful legislation such as the ADA is there to protect their civil rights.” Jernigan says the ADA creates access for him daily.


celebrating 30 years of the ADA


he Futur e

Looking Ahead Through a Changing Economy and Environment


by Sydney Geiger, Christina Gordley, Jacob Blevins and Jorden Jones


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has made a tremendous impact on the lives of people with disabilities over the past 30 years, and the work will not stop here. As America continues to advance, states must ensure that they are creating accessible and inclusive environments for people with disabilities. Looking to the future, it will be important to consider how innovations in technology, social and environmental factors and changes to the economy will impact people with disabilities. And as the nation faces the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, states must continue to recognize the effects it is having on each population, including people with disabilities.

Automation and Technology Changes in and the adoption of automation and technology in the workplace has created a shift in the type, quality and number of jobs across the country. These changes have transformed the workplace and impacted the nature of work and skills workers need. While, in some cases, technology can be harnessed to reduce barriers to employment — such as the use of assistive technologies and more accessible transportation — technological advances can cause unintentional barriers for people with disabilities. These may include algorithm bias and poorly designed, inacces-

ADA: the future sible products. Policymakers must stay informed regarding advancements in automation, artificial intelligence, accessible technology and other technological changes to remove barriers and emphasize the opportunities created by these changes. In 2019, CSG published a report, “The Future of the Workforce: Approaches to Increasing Access and Inclusion,” which expands on some of these issues. The report can be accessed at Artificial intelligence (AI) is an example offered in the 2019 report. AI is an area of technological change that is booming. It involves machines that think and act like humans and supports people with a variety of disabilities including visual, hearing and intellectual or physical disabilities through improving communication and safety. Additionally, companies are beginning to utilize artificial intelligence for hiring and service provisions, including screening applicants, processing applications, on-boarding training and providing information to employees. Numerous AI features, such as predictive text, speech-to-text transcription and voice recognition, provide people with disabilities opportunities in more workplaces and jobs that were not accessible to them before these technologies. However, for all its good, AI can also negatively impact people with disabilities, specifically through algorithm bias. Bias can be introduced through algorithms that favor individuals without disabilities as a result of design bias in incomplete data sets. Policymakers should consider policies and programming that may help prevent these types of biases.

A 2017 study by the Ruderman Foundation found that mitigating transportation obstacles would enable employment for 2 million individuals, save $19 billion annually in health expenditures from missed appointments and potentially provide $1.3 trillion in savings from productivity gains, fuel costs and accident prevention, among other sources.

— 2016 report from The Council of State Governments titled, “Work Matters: A Framework for States on Workforce Development for People with Disabilities.” The full report is available at documents/SEED_Report_2006_000.pdf.

The Gig Economy Changes to the structure of the economy, such as movements away from traditional forms of employment and toward the gig economy, may have substantial effects


Further, lack of accessible transportation also continues to be a barrier for people with disabilities looking to enter the workforce, receive services or participate in social activities. When looking at the future of transportation, autonomous vehicles are often at the forefront of the discussion. Self-driving automobiles allow vehicles to move from one location to another independently or with little engagement from the driver. The widespread introduction of affordable, accessible autonomous vehicles would have a significant impact on people with disabilities.

States are encouraged to ensure that transportation is widely available, reliable, affordable and accessible to people with disabilities in order to support access to the workplace.”


celebrating 30 years of the ADA employment crisis brought about by COVID-19. In March, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to expand unemployment relief to part-time, contract and gig workers. States including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington have classified gig workers as employees. Securing employment benefits for workers advances economic security for people with disabilities employed in the gig economy industry.

on the ability of individuals with disabilities to engage in the workforce. Individuals working in the gig economy are considered to be independent contractors rather than traditional employees, often engaged in short-term jobs or projects facilitated by app-based platforms. According to Forbes, nearly 36% of people in the U.S. participate in the gig economy in some capacity. While the gig economy can offer the flexibility many people with disabilities may need, it may also lead to challenges with accessibility of platforms and a lack of worker protections. The gig economy continues to be a relatively sustainable and alternative employment structure throughout the

The Future with COVID-19 On March 13, the U.S. declared a national emergency as the COVID-19 pandemic swept the country. All 50 states instituted some form of stay-at-home policies to decrease the exponential rate of infection. As social distancing and stay-at-home orders were implemented, many employers shifted their work model to allow working from home or modified shifts to allow for social distancing. While individuals with disabilities are not inherently at a great risk for contracting COVID-19, they may be more affected by disruption of services including access to education, community supports and service provision as well as information, employment and health care. The existing challenges to accessibly living have been amplified amidst the pandemic restrictions.


Access to Services


“Flattening the curve” has become a key phrase over the past months as the American population works to modify its behaviors to allow medical systems time to prepare for and slow the spread of COVID-19 to prevent hospitals from exceeding capacity. As states began preparing for a potential surge in cases, access to medical care and rationing health care created fear and concern among individuals with disabilities.

Due to complaints filed regarding vague or confusing policies, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a bulletin addressing civil rights, HIPPA and coronavirus to remind organizations that using a disability to determine whether an individual would receive health care is a violation of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act.

The ADA has been the key policy roadmap ensuring that rationing based on disability does not occur. As the need for life saving measures such as ventilators and intensive care unit beds increased, hospitals developed crisis standards of care.

Individuals with disabilities should not be denied medical care on the basis of stereotypes, assessments of quality of life or judgements about a person’s relative ‘worth’ based on the presence or absence of disabilities.”

— U.S. Department of Health and Human Services March 28, 2020 bulletin. Read the full document at

CSG and SEED outreach across the U.S. COVID-19 has served as a catalyst for change in public health policy. Working to address the spread of the virus has provided many opportunities and challenges for serving individuals with disabilities. Continuity of operations for


services and supplies that assist people with disabilities is critical to ensuring individuals maintain their health, safety, dignity and independence.

Private Sector Highlight: Microsoft

Microsoft has been an innovative leader in building a more accessible world through its commitment to the ADA and impact on people with disabilities in our everyday lives. Microsoft, a CSG Associate member, continues to work to develop innovative technologies to increase accessibility for all through product design, implementation and education. The following is a statement from Microsoft about its work with accessibility: “At Microsoft, we are committed to ensuring our technology empowers every person on the planet to achieve more. With the advent of the 30th anniversary of the ADA on the horizon and the current stay at home and work from home world — it’s an important reminder that technology and innovation can have a profound impact on the lives of people with disabilities.

To deliver products that empower, we manage accessibility like a business starting with the inclusion of people with disabilities across the company. Inclusive design principles are core to what we do, leaning on the skilling of employees on accessibility and underscoring the importance of authentic representation of people with disabilities. Our learning has been intense, and we have documented it along the way, sharing the Microsoft Accessibility Evolution Model (AEM) to help measure progress across a series of dimensions with five levels of maturity in the hopes that it accelerates your journey. Accessibility can help break down barriers, and with the onset of COVID-19 staying connected virtually has become more important than ever. Please, if you need information, connection or have ideas, don’t hesitate to contact Disability Answer Desk or visit us at”



celebrating 30 years of the ADA

T H E L AST I N G O F C OVI D - 1 9 As nearly every industry is forced to make changes resulting from this global pandemic, people with disabilities must be included in new accommodations

Beyond the impacts to access to services, society has seen changes in the way we work, learn and engage as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic. These changes have led to meaningful conversations that have touched on accommodations in the workplace, who can work and participate in the workforce, how we can teach students from a distance while also engaging them in meaningful instruction and the ways in which we can provide health care. As a result, across the country and the globe, we have seen an increase in telework, distance learning and telehealth.




As health vulnerabilities put some people with disabilities at significant risk for contracting COVID-19, states are extending accommodations in several ways, including making telework more accessible. States such as Virginia, Oklahoma, Missouri, Massachusetts and Arizona have been highlighted by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) for their provisions surrounding web accessibility. Many of these states have established their own guidelines, passed legislation to ensure accessibility or accurately executed federal law. Several technology companies have also

taken measures to accommodate people with disabilities. By making telework a regular option, employers can help alleviate the barriers of a traditional worksite, including on-site job duties and commuting limitations. Companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Nationwide and Barclays have announced they will allow employees to work from home indefinitely, consequently broadening employment options for people with disabilities.

Effects on Distance Learning Due to the concern for the safety of students amid the COVID-19 outbreak, schools have transitioned to distance learning formats in lieu of traditional classroom teaching. Title II of the ADA protects individuals, including the 7.1 million American students receiving special education services, from discrimination based on disability in the provision of services, activities and programs provided by state and local governments. The ADA, combined with

CSG webinars

What is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act? The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law that makes available a free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children.

The IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related service to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities. Learn more at

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act explained: Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act is the first disability civil rights law to be enacted in the U.S. It prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in programs that receive federal financial assistance and sets the stage for enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Section 503

the Individuals with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, requires schools to provide an accessible and equitable education for students with disabilities. Students with disabilities may require a range of accommodations to ensure compliance, which may be challenging considering the wide spectrum of disabilities and associated needs. In response to such challenges, states have created guidelines, in addition to lists of resources and tools, to help educators, students and parents effectively engage in distance learning.


services are rendered. The four components are:

» Access to broadband internet » Imaging technology or peripherals » Access to technical support staff » Staff training The advancement of telehealth in the states during COVID-19 has led to impactful conversations in the disability community and beyond about the accessibility aspects of healthcare and those who may need accommodations. There are currently seven states with enumerated executive orders expanding access to telehealth during COVID-19: California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Several states have issued executive orders that include reference to and expansion of telehealth, but these states did not issue sole executive orders on telehealth.


One of the largest emerging practices in the health care industry and in health service delivery is telehealth, or the provision of remote health care through the use of innovative telecommunications technology. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, telehealth has four infrastructure requirements for proper implementation. These four components aid in service provisions and ensure that efficient, effective and high-quality health care

protects qualified individuals with disabilities. Under this law, individuals with disabilities are defined as people with physical or mental impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities.


celebrating 30 years of the ADA

States with Executive Orders Expanding Access to Telehealth During COVID-19

State has executive order expanding access to telehealth


Learn more about the advancement of telehealth during COVID-19 at


Many factors can affect the lives of individuals with disabilities. Whether these factors are social, technological or environmental, state policy makers hold the key to ensuring that state policies can address challenges, changes and opportunities to meet the needs of all constituents, including those with disabilities. States can lead the charge in upholding the princi-

ples of the Americans with Disabilities Act and ensure greater access to services, employment, education and health care for all in the future.

CSG associates


“At Merck, we are committed to cultivating a disability-confident workplace where everyone can participate. When people feel included and valued, we all succeed.” – Ken Frazier, Chairman and CEO


celebrating 30 years of the ADA

Join us for a webinar with the

CSG Justice Center How to Respond to People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in the Criminal Justice System People with intellectual and developmental disabilities are often an overlooked population in the criminal justice system because of a lack of identification and understanding and service gaps that prevent providers’ abilities to address their needs. At the same time, they are also often victimized by people without these disabilities, which can sometimes lead to sustained involvement with the criminal justice system. Criminal justice professionals who want to effectively respond to their service and delivery needs and reduce the prevalence of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the criminal justice system will first need to improve their knowledge and awareness about people in this population. Then, they must commit to training that is focused specifically on ways to address their needs.

The Council of State Governments Justice Center is hosting a webinar that will discuss the prevalence of intellectual and developmental disabilities within people in the criminal justice system and will explain a “Pathways to Justice” model that can be used to better understand how people with these disabilities become involved in the criminal justice system. It will also feature conversations about common challenges that they face and criminal justice professionals experience when encountering each other at each intercept point. The webinar will also highlight how The Arc’s National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability is supporting professionals with training and technical assistance.


Thursday July 30, 2020


2– 3:30 p.m. ET

To register, visit

celebrating 30 years of the ADA

2 0 2 0 W e b i n a r S e r i e s C e l e b r at e s

30 Years of the ADA Hosted by The Council of State Governments, in partnership with the State Exchange on Employment and Disability (SEED), this six-part webinar series explores the origin and legacy of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). Learn about the evolution of the ADA and its impacts on

state policies, businesses and communities over the past 30 years. Along with policy makers, industry experts and leaders in the field, we will discuss a variety of policies and programs that can help enhance disability employment policy in your state.

Webinar 1: The Legacy of the ADA: Celebrating 30 Years of Policy Action! In partnership with Cornell Yang Tan Institute on Employment and Disability Learn about the inception and establishment of the ADA — its history, background and political context. This panel will also discuss the successes of the ADA over the past 30 years, COVID-19 as a catalyst and opportunities as we look toward the future.

Thursday, July 30, 2020 Noon – 1:30 p.m. (ET) Featuring:

Bobby Silverstein (Principal PPSV, State Exchange on Employment and Disability) Jill Houghton (President and CEO, Disability:In) Lex Frieden (Professor of Biomedical Informatics and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, UT Health) Moderated by: David D’Arcangelo (Commissioner, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind)

Credentialing: A certificate and verification of com-

pletion will be provided to participants upon completion of this webinar.

To learn more and to register, visit Target Audience: Policymakers, education work-

force development, vocational rehabilitation and training, legislative and executive branch staff, organizations serving individuals with disabilities, public and private employers increasing access and inclusion

Save the Date for our Webinar Series: The Legacy of the ADA: Celebrating 30 Years of Increasing Access and Opportunity Webinar 2 — Aug. 13

The State as a Model Employer (SAME) of People with Disabilities

Webinar 3 — Sept. 10

Getting Ready for Work – Youth Transition and Guideposts for Success In partnership with Cornell Yang Tan Institute on Employment and Disability

Webinar 4 — Sept. 24

Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work Policy and Practice In partnership with Cornell Yang Tan Institute on Employment and Disability

Webinar 5 — Oct. 15

Accessible Transportation and Workplace Technology

Webinar 6 — Nov. 19

Ensuring a Disability Perspective in State Policy

*Dates are tentative and subject to change. For the most up-to-date information, visit


Each webinar in this series will focus on a specific topic to explore policy framework development and opportunities for disability employment policy, examine how COVID-19 has served as a catalyst and magnified issues, identify opportunities for engagement with industry experts and discuss frameworks for disability policy implementation.


celebrating 30 years of the ADA

CSG Associates in Action Private sector partners share their contributions to improving the lives of people with disabilities

The following has been submitted directly from private sector partners of The Council of State Governments. This content is shared directly and without any editorial contributions or changes by Capitol Ideas. The content and viewpoints are those of the authors alone.


Driving Innovation for Independent Journeys for all Passengers

Brad Stertz | Director of Government Affairs, Audi

The new era of electric and autonomous vehicles is on the horizon. There are still some years until self-driving tech is mature enough, but significant efforts are required now to ensure vehicles deliver on the potential to provide increased mobility to those that are currently underserved.

From our conversations with stakeholders, it became clear that wheelchair manufacturers will need to make significant investments and create new standards for crashworthy wheelchairs. In order to trigger these investments, they would like to see:

Automakers and other innovators need sufficient lead time to develop new vehicle platforms that are truly accessible. We need to spark and drive innovation in parts of the larger ecosystem involved in the safe and independent journeys of our passengers.

• Clear signals of commitment from the automotive industry


Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and Volkswagen Group of America are on an Inclusive Mobility mission to improve transportation and the quality of life for people with disabilities.


This program, started in 2017, directly engages with disability groups in the early stages of designing vehicle technologies, user experience and mobility services. We drive this effort from our Silicon Valley Campus, but are deeply networked within the global organization and integrated into the engineering and design processes to Germany. So, where are we starting? The first topic we pursued is wheelchairs because we need to establish requirements early.

• A new cross-industry standard for the physical docking interface between the wheelchair and vehicle • Changes in the way Medicare and insurance providers cover “transit” options on wheelchairs We hope to find interest among other innovators to shape these new emerging cross-industry standards through Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) or other standards bodies. Looking ahead, we’re also exploring what other interfaces to assistive devices or tech ecosystems may benefit from standardization. We are not looking to standardize the end user interfaces, which provide opportunities for innovation and differentiation amongst automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

CSG associates


Celebrating the Americans with Disabilities Act Anniversary

Ernie DuPont | Senior Director, Workforce Initiatives CVS Health is honored to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. We applaud the landmark legislation that supports the inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of community life, including employment. For more than two decades, CVS Health has been committed to having a workforce that is diverse and inclusive. The company works to ensure that youth, mature workers, veterans and other groups that reflect its communities have a place within the company. The Workforce Initiatives team partners with state and federal workforce agencies to provide employment services and training to underserved communities. They’ve helped thousands of people access meaningful employment opportunities. They’ve also worked with schools, churches, universities, faith-based and community organizations to hire people with diverse backgrounds.

To help these individuals find meaningful employment opportunities, CVS Health created the Abilities In Abundance program, which helps workers with disabilities access the security and prosperity that stable jobs can provide. Skilled, productive workers with disabilities can be brought successfully into the workforce and can make extraordinary contributions to our economy and our society. Abilities In Abundance works to break down the employment barriers people with disabilities face, such as limited access to skills training and, too often, unfairly low expectations. Through the Abilities In Abundance program, more than 55 programs are active in 20 states and the District of Columbia. The innovative installation of simulated facilities at 21 program sites, has enhanced training capabilities in safe environments for individuals with disabilities. Mock CVS Pharmacies, designed and stocked to look like actual CVS Pharmacies, offer unique hands-on training in retail or pharmacy space housed in schools, vocational rehabilitation centers and community agencies.



Laura Becker | President of Global Business Services, The Procter & Gamble Company

Programs have been launched in P&G’s United Kingdom, Boston, Costa Rica, Singapore and Cincinnati offices to learn as a company how to hire this dynamic talent and

to capture candidates’ unique problem-solving methods. Employees from this program are currently working in the fields of R&D and Smart Robotic Automation. The company sees these programs as an innovation strategy to source diverse talents and drive business results, and early results show both, leading to plans for expansion. “P&G began a neurodiversity program to ensure we can fully tap into the broadest set of talent available, benefiting from the unique ideas and capabilities of a diverse group,” said Laura Becker, P&G’s president for Global Business Services. “I want P&G to be a place where neurodiversity is a win for the business, the organization and the individuals.”


With no two diagnoses the same, Autism Spectrum Disorder is a condition that needs careful understanding to enable an individual to thrive. Full-time employment for adults on the autism spectrum is disappointingly low despite the skills that many autistic people can offer potential employers — especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. To drive diversity and inclusion and create innovative growth, P&G has stepped into the realm of Neurodiversity, an umbrella term for those who think differently.


celebrating 30 years of the ADA

The South

AL • AR • FL • GA • KY • LA • MO • MS • NC • OK • SC • TN • TX • VA • WV


MARIJUANA BREATHALYZER The Oklahoma Department of Public Safety (DPS) confirmed it will assess the accuracy of a marijuana breathalyzer this year as part of a recently approved pilot program, making Oklahoma one of the first states nationally to try the new technology. The announcement came after the Legislature appropriated $300,000 during the 2020 session for DPS to develop the pilot program.


The breathalyzer technology, developed by Hound Labs, a California-based company, can determine if THC, the main psychoactive component in marijuana, has been consumed by a person in the past few hours. The goal of the program is to identify drivers who have smoked marijuana within a two- to three-hour timeframe, or those who have consumed edible marijuana within the past four to five hours, considered the peak impairment windows. Presently, according to law enforcement officials, there are few accurate roadside tests that can determine marijuana impairment.


Under the terms of the pilot program, participation is voluntary and test results cannot be used punitively. Positive tests would not be admissible in court. An official with DPS said it may take up to a year to begin the pilot program. If successful, plans proposed following the conclusion of the program would need to be approved by the legislature, as alcohol is the only substance allowed to be tested by breath under current state law. Additionally, standards for marijuana impairment would have to be established by the state, as no law currently exists detailing at what point a person is considered impaired following consumption of the drug.

For more on CSG South, visit and

The Arkansas Department of Transportation completed $1.3 billion in interstate repairs and expansions as part of the Interstate Rehabilitation Program. A total of 54 projects were awarded contacts, covering 358 miles, or nearly half of the state’s interstate system, the result of a voter-approved initiative in 2011 allowing the Highway Commission to issue $575 million in bonds to improve the state’s interstates. A similar voter-approved initiative, the Connecting Arkansas Program, also is nearing completion after the state distributed close to $2 billion in contracts to “regionally significant projects.”

ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bipartisan bill that will create a statewide electric vehicle charging infrastructure, as well as establish “staging areas” in rural areas to help electric vehicle drivers quickly evacuate during hurricanes and other emergencies. The Essential State Infrastructure Bill requires state officials to develop plans to build charging stations along the state’s highways, with a status report of the project sent to the governor and lawmakers on Dec. 1. In addition to the charging stations, the law requires the state to estimate how electric vehicles will impact gas tax revenue, which currently accounts for about a quarter of the state’s highway funding.

ENERGY CORRIDOR EXPANSION Louisiana received a $135 million federal grant to build eight miles of elevated highway on Louisiana Highway 1 (LA 1), a critical energy corridor located in a flood-prone area. LA 1 is the only access route to Port Fourchon, which services more than 90% of the nation’s offshore energy exploration and production, as well the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the unloading and distribution point for oil supertankers entering the Gulf of Mexico. The highway also functions as an emergency evacuation route for 35,000 residents. The grant is the largest portion of $900 million that was allocated federally to support national energy security.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY Virginia is positioned to become the first Southern state to transition to clean energy after Gov. Ralph Northam signed the Virginia Clean Economy Act. The bill commits the state to providing 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050 through the removal of carbon emissions and obtaining energy from renewable sources. According to the bill, coal-fired plants must close by 2024, while Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power, the state’s two largest energy providers, will be carbon-free by 2045 and 2050, respectively. Companies not meeting the objectives will be assessed penalties, which will fund job training and related programs in disadvantaged communities.

STUDENT WELL-BEING The West Virginia Department of Education announced the creation of a new office dedicated to the well-being of the state’s school children. Multiple student-centered initiatives and programs now will fall under the purview of the Department of Education Office of Student Support and Well-Being, which will provide resources, best practices and expertise to give children a reliable, comprehensive network for development, as well as post-secondary career and educational opportunities. While the COVID-19 pandemic created new challenges for families and the education community, many of the problems precede the arrival of the virus. Particularly, the opioid epidemic has strained many students’ families, placing greater responsibilities on educators to address needs that go beyond academics.

regional round ups AK • AZ • CA • CO • HI • ID • MT • NM • NV • OR • UT • WA • WY • AB • AS • BC • CNMI • GU

VIRTUAL CONFERENCE The Wyoming Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities will hold its annual conference in a virtual format in 2020. Speakers from Voices in Advocacy, the Georgetown Leadership Institute and The National Alliance for Direct Support Professional will lead live online presentations. The conference will include the Bright Star Awards that recognize and celebrate individuals with a disability who have made contributions in their community, and individuals within the state who have contributed to the disability sector will also be honored.

EQUITABLE OPPORTUNITIES In 2019, Washington passed legislation designating a specified week as Disability Pride week. The same legislation — SB5210 (2019) — increases consumer awareness of benefits and uses of hearing instruments and technologies and develops educational materials to be distributed by hearing aid dispensers including audiologists. In 2020, HB1883 created the Office of Equity within the office of the governor for the purpose of promoting access to equitable opportunities and resources that reduce disparities and improve outcomes statewide across state government.

ACCESS TO INFORMATION Through state statute, Arizona recognizes the need to improve accessibility of information and communications technology in order to “increase the successful employment and access to government services” for individuals with disabilities. In addition, SB1348 (2020) specifies that eligible business access expenditures include reasonable and necessary amounts paid or incurred relating to access for persons with disabilities. These include removing barriers that prevent a business from being accessible to or usable by individuals with disabilities as well as providing qualified interpreters or other methods of making audio materials available to hearing-impaired individuals.

SURVEY OF EMPLOYERS In 2019, Alaska completed a new survey of employers regarding the employment of people with disabilities. Titled, “Alaskan Employer Perspectives on Hiring Individuals with Disabilities,” this summary report found 47% of the population with disabilities (including all disabilities) and 34% of individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities are employed, compared to 74% of non-disabled Alaskans who are in the workforce. The survey results included overall positive experiences for those employers that had hired individuals with disabilities. However, federal contractors making up about a third of survey respondents were unsure or reported not meeting the 7% utilization goal stated in Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act.


CALIFORNIA WORKS TO IMPROVE ACCESS FOR EVERYONE In recent years, California has worked to make its transportation industry more accessible. In 2018, the state Senate passed SB1376 requiring the commission, as part of its regulation of transportation network companies, to establish a program in a new or existing proceeding relating to accessibility for persons with disabilities including wheelchair users who need a wheelchair accessible vehicle. In 2019, the legislature adopted additional measures to ensure that dial-a-ride and paratransit services are accessible to people with disabilities. Through this legislation, the state hopes that transportation services can be provided and accessible to everyone for the purposes of employment, education and medical and personal travel. The state is also working toward ensuring access to technology including artificial intelligence and other measures to advance the future of the workforce for all individuals in the state. In 2018, California created an artificial intelligence roadmap, which includes policy recommendations intended to “grow the state’s economy, take advantage of AI to enhance services while protecting sensitive data and promote privacy, transparency and accountability in the development and use of AI.” In 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order establishing the Future of Work Commission to study, understand, analyze and make recommendations regarding the impact of technology on work. In late September 2019, California enacted legislation which presumes gig marketplace workers are employees and places the burden on the business to demonstrate that the workers are not employees, consistent with specified criteria. If workers are considered employees, then they are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If they are independent contractors, they are not protected by the ADA.

For more on CSG West, visit: and


On a semi-annual basis, Western governors enact new policy resolutions as well as amending existing resolutions. In 2020, the Western Governors Association formally approved three policy resolutions on broadband connectivity, rural development and Western agriculture. The Western governors support an array of funding, trade, education, research and workforce development programs promoting agricultural contributions to the economies and quality of life in Western states. They also support policies and recommendations to strengthen rural communities and ensure programs delivering state and federal resources are efficient and accessible.

The west


celebrating 30 years of the ADA

the midwest MINNESOTA CHANGES MEDIATION LAW Through unforeseen, exceptional circumstances, Minnesota lawmakers passed three major pieces of legislation in 2020 despite having to conduct business remotely as a result of COVID-19. One of the most impactful pieces was a modification of Minnesota’s Farmer-Lender Mediation Act. This law dates back to 1986, and it gives farmers the opportunity to renegotiate, restructure or resolve farm debt through mediation. Under this law, creditors cannot collect a debt against an agricultural property until an offer of debt mediation has been extended. The old law gave the two sides 90 days to reach an agreement, but with this year’s passage of HF 4599, legislators extended the mediation time to 150 days or Dec. 1, whichever is later.


In addition to this adjustment in the Famer-Lender Mediation Act, Minnesota legislators came to broad agreement on new agriculture-focused appropriation (HF 4490) and policy (HF 4285) bills. This legislation means the state will continue to fund farm safety grants that help farmers install new rollover protective structures on older tractors and invest in new safety features for farm work in and around grain safety bins. Additionally, lawmakers added statutory language extending immunity to veterinarians who report suspected cases of animal abuse to authorities.


Other significant legislative agreements including the establishment of a grant program for independently owned meat and poultry processing plants to expand operations to handle the backlog of livestock due to the closure of major processing facilities, the expansion of state Department of Agriculture programs to improve mental health services and suicide prevention programs and modification of a disaster relief program for farmers so that assistance can be provided based on revenue losses due to “contagious animal disease” or an “infectious human disease.” For more on CSG Midwest, visit: and

IA • IL • IN • KS • MI • MN • ND • NE • OH • SD • WI • AB • MB • ON • SK CONTACT TRACING APP EARLY USE In early June, North Dakota was the only Midwestern state to launch an app for contact tracing. South Dakota also uses this app, which is called CARE19 and gives users a random ID number and anonymously stores location data throughout the day, tracking only locations where the person visits for at least 10 minutes. No personal information is kept. North Dakota will also offer a second contact tracing app being developed jointly by Apple Inc. and Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc.

NEW PRIVACY LAWS Concerns about privacy surrounding new telehealth applications including contact tracing technologies led legislators in Kansas to approve the “Contact Tracing Privacy Act,” part of HB2016. Attorney General Derek Schmidt proposed this legislation in response to concerns raised after news reports suggested the Kansas Department of Health and Environment may have been using cell phone location data to track COVID-19. Under Kansas’ new law, participation in contact tracing must be voluntary and information cannot be collected through cell phone tracking, excluding contact tracing apps. Any information collected may not be used by state agencies. This law runs through April 2021. PAY FOR ESSENTIAL WORKERS Workers in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan partnered with the Canadian government to boost wages of COVID-19 essential workers. The province’s most vulnerable citizens are eligible for a 16-week boost in pay as part of the Temporary Wage Supplement Program. During the program’s first phase, a wage supplement of $400/ month was made available to home health care workers and individuals employed at long-term care facilities, childcare centers, emergency and transition shelters and community-based group homes. Originally, workers had to have monthly earnings of less than $2,500 to be eligible, but in early June the program was expanded to waive the income threshold for workers at certain long-term care facilities. NEW VOTING DISTRICTS Michigan is gearing up for big changes in how new political maps will be drawn. In May, Michigan ended its first phase of a new redistricting process that is the first of its kind in the Midwest. More than 6,000 Michigan voters completed applications to be part of a 13-member citizens commission that will redraw the state’s political maps next year. This transition away from legislatively drawn districts is the result of a voter-approved constitutional amendment in 2018. An online application portal sent applications to 250,000 randomly selected voters and 200 applicants will be chose as semifinalists. These selections are random with the constraint that the semifinalists mirror the geographic and demographic makeup of the state. TRANSITIONING FROM MEDICAID Indiana has received federal approval of a first-of-its-kind program that helps individuals transition from Medicaid to employer-based health coverage or a plan in the individual marketplace. The new “workforce bridge” builds on the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP), which is used by the state to expand Medicaid to cover low-income adults. Each HIP participant has $2,500 placed in an account each year to use for health care expenses. Members leaving the Healthy Indiana Plan can continue to use up to $1,000 from their account for up to 12 months in order to pay premiums, deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance during their transition to other types of coverage.

regional round ups CT • DE • MA • MD • ME • NH • NJ • NY • PA • RI • VT • NB • NS • ON • PE • PR • QC • VI

the east

DAIRY INDUSTRY SEEKS FEDERAL ASSISTANCE Agriculture as a whole industry has been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Agricultural officials from New Hampshire and six other Northeastern states sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in May urging the agency to set a price floor of $19.50 per hundredweight through June. In a separate letter, officials in New York and Pennsylvania have asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a reimbursement of $3 per hundredweight of milk produced through the end of August. In July, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets announced a COVID-19 Agriculture Assistance Program for dairy producers and processors. SECURE SUPPLY CHAIN The governors of seven states — New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island — have agreed to develop a regional supply chain for medical equipment as they strive to reduce costs and ensure adequate supplies for health care workers and public safety personnel. The aim is to enable states to improve their market power and lower costs for personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and other critical supplies. The states will also coordinate policies regarding the PPE inventory that each state’s health care system should have on hand to be prepared for a possible second wave of COVID-19 later this year. PLASTIC BAGS FIND SUPPORT States including Maine and Massachusetts have paused their bans on plastic bags through the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the perceived cleanliness of disposable plastic bags compared to reusable cloth bags brought into stores from people’s homes amid the current coronavirus crisis, plastic bags have found a new life. In Massachusetts, like many states, Gov. Charlie Baker announced a new public health order including the temporary ban on reusable bags. This regulation also prohibits stores from charging for paper and plastic bags while the order is in place. ELECTRIC TRUCKS AND BUSES In July, Vermont joined 15 states and the District of Columbia in signing a memorandum of understanding to accelerate electrification of the medium- and heavy-duty bus and truck market. The agreement calls for 100% of all new medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sales to be zero emission vehicles by 2050. Today, there are 70 electric truck and bus models on the market, with more models expected over the next decade. Other Eastern states to sign the MOU include Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts. ADDRESSING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE

VIRTUAL MICRO-SUMMITS SPARK CONVERSATIONS Recent nationwide protests have presented a unique opportunity to create substantive policy changes, particularly at the state and local level, according to panelists at one of the virtual micro-summits hosted by CSG East’s Council on Communities of Color. In wide-ranging discussions, participants including state officials, academics and legal experts emphasized that the conversations occurring in cities and towns across America should be part of a broader effort to tackle racism and discrimination in education, housing and all other aspects of daily life. New York state Sen. Kevin Parkers, chair of the Council on Communities of Color, said protestors have created an environment that allows for officials to have these conversations. In Pennsylvania, there is a renewed commitment among some state lawmakers and members of the Philadelphia City Council to advocate aggressively for criminal justice reform, according to Pennsylvania state Rep. Chris Rabb. Khalilah Brown-Dean, associate professor of political science at Quinnipiac University warned of possible cascading socio-economic impacts from the current health crisis during the first of the micro-summits. Brown-Dean urged policymakers to be aware of how their actions affect communities of color. “For every bill that comes through your legislature, think about what that impact will be and then what are you willing to do to offset that impact,” she said.

For more on CSG East, visit and


New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has announced a plan to close the “digital divide” and address unmet pre-K-12 student technological needs in New Jersey schools ahead of the 2020-21 school year. Efforts to ensure reliable internet connectivity and access to one-to-one digital devices are considered critical, according to the governor’s plan. This approach is three-pronged and includes a collaborative process for potential support and a one-time $10 million formula grant using a portion of the state’s federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds.


final facts

Lending a H e l p i n g Paw Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability. Check out some fun facts on these very special canine companions.

There are around


working service dogs in the U.S.

September is designated as

N at io na l Se rv i c e Dog Month.

According to the American Kennel Club, the most common breeds trained as guide dogs are

Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers & German Shepherds.

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA)

requires airline to allow service dogs to stay with their handlers in the cabin of an aircraft at no additional cost.

Service dogs are working animals. They are not considered pets. The animals should be viewed as an extension of their handlers.

The ADA does not require service dogs to wear a vest, ID tag, or specific harness.

Dogs and miniature horses are the only service animals recognized by the ADA.

The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 allows service dogs to live in housing that has a “no-pets” rule.

CONNECT WITH CSG! We know you’re busy, so we’re making it easier than ever to connect with CSG! Find us on the web, in your email inbox or on our social media channels. We’re sharing our latest work, member stories, new reports and other great content. Keep up with all of the exciting things happening at CSG in 2020 and connect with your fellow members!


Like The Council of State Governments on Facebook. We’ll share announcements, top news from the states, member stories and more!


Visit You’ll be seeing new information and updates soon. Visit the CSG website for information on our convenings, programs, publications and more.


Follow @CSGovts on Twitter. You’ll get instant, upto-the-Tweet access to what’s happening in state governments at our CSG offices across the country.


Look for upcoming podcasts from CSG! We’ll share those through our social media channels for a deeper dig into some of the top issues impacting state leaders.


Link with The Council of State Governments on LinkedIn. We’ll post organizational news and help you connect with a network of the nation’s top state officials.


Subscribe to The Current State E-newsletter. We’ll send member stories, state successes and other information to your inbox every week! No extra time or work needed.

The Council of State Governments 1776 Avenue of the States Lexington, KY 40511



COVID-19 CSG is closely monitoring this evolving health crisis and is working to bring our members the latest resources to assist their communities.

Visit us at