April 3, 2017

Creation of Task Force on Employment and Economic Opportunity for People with Disabilities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 29, 2017

CONTACT:
Mayor’s Press Office
312.744.3334
press@cityofchicago.org

CITY COUNCIL APPROVES CREATION OF TASK FORCE ON EMPLOYMENT AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

Chicago City Council today approved a resolution to establish a new task force focused on removing  barriers to employment for people with disabilities. The Task Force on Employment and Economic  Opportunity for People with Disabilities, jointly created by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Alderman Roberto Maldonado, will advise the city on relevant policies and programs in order to increase employment and economic development opportunities to benefit residents with disabilities.

“Our top priority is to ensure that Chicago provides all of our residents with access and opportunity  to earn a good wage and to live independently,” said Mayor Emanuel. “While we’ve made important  progress on addressing the employment gap for people both with and without disabilities, we must  do more. By increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities, we will ensure that  many more residents are able to live independently, allowing our city as a whole to thrive.”

The Task Force will represent leaders of not-for-profit disability policy organizations, community- based service providers, universities and higher education, organizations focused on driving  economic growth in the region, and city and state officials.

While a series of both local and federal legislation, including the Americans with Disabilities Act  (ADA), have contributed to significant improvements in quality of life in recent years, people with  disabilities, who make up approximately one fifth of the population in Chicago, are still unemployed  at higher rates and are more impacted by poverty than those without disabilities.

To address the employment gap, the Task Force will work to advance policies and programs that  better prepare students with disabilities for higher education; increase alignment on job training  opportunities between employers and service providers, and encourage economic development  through entrepreneurship and a review of new and existing policies to ensure that the interests of  people with disabilities are represented.

“There is no question that the only way to succeed in today’s economy is with a strong education  and well-paying job,” said Alderman Maldonaldo. “This Task Force will address the employment  gap for persons with disabilities head on, with a goal of opening new doors of opportunity that will  lead to economic advancement for everyone in our city.”

Increasing employment and economic development opportunities is critical to people with  disabilities being able to live independently, accessing quality education, job training, transportation, and housing.

The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) will serve as the facilitator of the Task Force, which will meet monthly over the course of the next year.

“To ensure that residents with disabilities are afforded the same opportunities for employment, the  task force will work toward better opportunities for our residents with disabilities to live, work and  thrive in our city,” said MOPD Commissioner Karen Tamley."

The creation of the task force delivers on the administration’s ongoing commitment to improving  access and opportunity for disabled residents in a wide range of city initiatives, with a focus on  education and employment. Under the Mayor’s leadership, MOPD has launched a number of  initiatives focused on improving opportunities for people with disabilities to earn an education and  gain employment. Most recently, the launch of the City’s first Mayoral Literacy Task Force in 2015 is  aimed at closing the gap in literacy and improving reading proficiency among students and  residents with disabilities.

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