It will come as absolutely no surprise to any readers of this blog that we’re passionate about disability rights. Ensuring that everyone has equal access to educational, professional and recreational opportunities is part of what drove us into the wheelchair ramp and stairlift business. That’s why we were so thrilled to see this Fortune magazine article, “Why Disability Rights is Everyone’s Business“.
The author, Jeffery Pfeffer, makes some great points in the piece. He points out that no one is immune from becoming disabled. Illness and injury don’t discriminate: having money, fantastic health care, or the world’s best genes can’t stop a spinal cord injury from having a tremendous impact on your life.
Lack of access to public transport keeps disabled people from being able to fully participate in the workforce. Pfeffer points out that only 15% of NYC subway stations can be accessed by wheelchair users: what happens if your job happens to be near a stop that belong to the other 85%? The increasingly popular ride share services such as Uber and Lyft aren’t obligated to provide accessible vehicles; in markets where these services have effectively driven taxi services out of business, the disabled passenger is left without any viable options.
Despite wide spread belief that the ADA has made employment more accessible for all, research actually shows the percentage of people with disabilities in the workforce has actually decreased 40% in past 30 years. Pfeffer does a great job pointing out the role people with disabilities have had in increasing workplace participation through advocating for access, but he’s right: we can’t do it alone. Disability rights is everyone’s issue, and it’s giong to take everyone working together to make things better.