On the 33rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Mayor Eric Adams announced a new $8.8 million investment for to career advancement for New Yorkers with disabilities at the Brooklyn Workforce1 Career Center in Downtown Brooklyn.
The investment will to expand access to internships, training seminars, jobs, future careers and financial counseling. Some of the funds will go toward launching a new Center for Workplace Accessibility and Inclusion that is expected to focus on the structural challenges needed by many people with disabilities who are pursuing a career.
According to American Community Survey data, two-thirds of adult New Yorkers with disabilities are unemployed — not because they are unable to work, but because they have so often been denied the support necessary to access and sustain employment, according to Adams.
The mayor’s office said the investment will to help 2,500 New Yorkers with disabilities find career-track employment over the next three years through an expansion of the NYC:ATWORK program to help people with disabilities connect with the jobs and careers that work for them.
“This just makes sense,” Adams said at the July 26 announcement.”As a person who had a learning disability as a kid, I can tell you, my day was defined by whether or not I was called up in the classroom by my professors. My day was made when I didn’t get ridiculed at recess. Now I meet with the Parks Department and we talk about accessibility for all New Yorkers. I ask them, ‘Are we factoring in people with disabilities?’ This city hasn’t always been inviting for them and I know there are small things that are easy to implement that make the day of many New Yorkers.”
The new Center for Workplace Accessibility and Inclusion will be located within the city’s Office of Talent and Workforce Development.
A public-private partnership led by interim executive director Martha Jackson, the center will work to establish an advisory council of employers, people with disabilities, advocates, and government agencies; partner with stakeholders to identify the biggest challenges people with disabilities face in the workforce, and design and improve workforce development programs.
Among the members of the Center’s advisory council is Microsoft — the tech giant has committed to infuse accessibility design into computer science courses across The City University of New York curriculum to ensure that the next generation of technologists understands why and how to design software and hardware products that are “born” accessible.
“This is a full circle,” said Jackson said. “This is not just about jobs, it’s about life.”
In addition to establishing the Center, the investment will allow the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities to add more staff to its 18 career centers — starting with the Brooklyn Workforce1 Career Center — provide additional training for all Workforce1 staff, expand financial counseling for people with disabilities, and more.
“New York City is proud to be a national leader on accessibility and inclusion, and with today’s announcement, we take another significant step forward in ensuring that our city is open to everyone,” said Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities commissioner Christina Curry in a statement. “These expanded investments in our direct employment services will help more New Yorkers with disabilities access the job opportunities they deserve. Together, we will support the career advancement of individuals with disabilities, making a lasting impact on their lives and our city’s workforce.”