Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It's an Equal Rights Movement

Excerpt from an interview with Chris Brandt, AtWork! CEO, on NW Focus. Click here to see the entire interview.

We [AtWork!] help people with disabilities discover their talents, find their unique skills. We believe everyone has the capacity to work in our communities and really should be given the opportunity to do so. For us it’s more than working, it’s a cause, it’s a movement, an equal rights movement.

People with disabilities have been excluded from the work force forever. We used to put people with disabilities away in institutions and took advantage sometimes of their labor in those institutions to do jobs that nobody else wanted to do. But we never thought they might be able to contribute in the same way as you and I might contribute to business or to our community.

Over time we began to recognize that that wasn’t true. To exclude a whole segment of the population from equal opportunity is not what America is about. It’s really the last equal rights movement. We’ve seen an equal rights movement for people of color, an equal rights movement for women, and now we see an equal rights movement for people with disabilities beginning with the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act 20 years ago this July.

Here in Washington State we’ve had the adoption of the Working Age Adult policy in 2006 which is truly a state of the art cutting edge policy in the nation. That policy really focuses tax payers resources on helping people with disabilities get jobs in the community where they can really be productive, really contribute to the bottom line of a business, earn some decent wages and escape poverty.

posted by AtWork! at


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