After more than twenty years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the unemployment rate of people with disabilities remains high at 14.7 percent, nearly double the rate of people without disabilities at 7.4 percent. Further, people with disabilities have a workforce participation rate of only 20.3 percent.

The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), the nation’s largest disability rights organization, praises President Barack Obama for enforcing the landmark rule, which delivers on a 40 year old bipartisan promise by the federal government to require contractors to include disability as part of diversity hiring goals. Specifically, the initiative will enforce Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires federal contractors to promote equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Although Section 503 was enacted 40 years ago, it has never been enforced or clarified to the extent necessary, requiring employers only to make a “good faith” effort to hire people with disabilities. This rule establishes an explicit benchmark of 7 percent and includes data collection and record keeping requirements that will improve employer accountability. The regulation comes after President Obama issued an Executive Order in 2010 that committed the nation’s largest employer, the federal government, to become a model for the employment of Americans with disabilities. The regulation was first proposed in December, 2011.

To find out more information on Section 503 and the perspective of the disability community, please go http://www.aapd.com/what-we-do/employment/employment-legislation/section-503.html

Source: American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)

The American Association of People with Disabilities is the nation’s largest disability rights organization. AAPD promotes equal opportunity, economic power, independent living, and political participation for people with disabilities.