NEW YORK, Nov. 19, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- United Spinal Association recently hosted its bi-annual Corporate Advisory Council virtual meeting to address the important role corporate America plays in expanding the rights and inclusion of people with mobility disabilities nationwide.
The conference, which brings together United Spinal's corporate partners, celebrated this year's 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a comprehensive disability rights law passed in 1990 that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.
"We have made amazing progress thanks to the passage of the ADA. But our work is not finished. The support of our corporate partners empowers United Spinal to continue to create real change so that our community has equal opportunities. When we do this, we all win," said Vincenzo Piscopo, United Spinal president and CEO.
The event's special guests included Thomas P. DiNapoli, New York State Comptroller and Ted Kennedy Jr., partner at Epstein Becker Green, former representative of Connecticut's 12th Senate district, and civil rights activist for people with disabilities. He also serves as Board Chair of the American Association of People with Disabilities and Co-Chair of the Disability Equality Index (DEI), a corporate social responsibility and ESG benchmarking tool that scores and tracks businesses on their disability inclusion policies.
DiNapoli discussed how the efforts of United Spinal's corporate partners to strengthen disability inclusion is key to continuing the progress of the ADA.
"For people with disabilities who were already facing a challenging economic landscape, the ongoing public health crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic further complicates these challenges," said DiNapoli.
DiNapoli, whose office is currently working with the New York City Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities to address the City's high disability unemployment rate, called for a redoubling of efforts to improve access to opportunities for people with disabilities to join the workforce.
"We've made gains. We do not want to go backward. The workplace is being reimagined with the shift to working remotely. In many ways this may create even more opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in the workforce and I think we need to seize upon those opportunities," added DiNapoli.
Kennedy emphasized that most legislative issues in Washington, DC, including education, transportation, housing, and healthcare, have a disability angle.
"We're going to be calling more and more on companies to help us achieve full equality, justice and inclusion for people with disabilities in our society," said Kennedy. "Over half of the world's largest economies are actually public companies, so it's incumbent upon companies to take up this mantle and to do more."
During the meeting, United Spinal announced the winners of its ADA Corporate Challenge which recognizes companies that have demonstrated a commitment to accessibility and inclusion. Winners included Latin America for All and Sunrise Medical.
DiNapoli also presented James Weisman, who recently retired as United Spinal's president and CEO with a New York State Comptroller Proclamation commending him for 40 years of service to the disability community as an advocate for disability rights and accessible transportation.
"I came to United Spinal when I was 28. For the past 41 years, I have worked with fun, interesting, and interested people. I'm very proud of all that we have achieved through the years and look forward to seeing what United Spinal will accomplish next," said Weisman.
United Spinal's Corporate Members have partnered in United Spinal's mission, programs, and advocacy to improve the quality of life for all people with spinal cord injuries and disorders.
Formed in 1946 by paralyzed veterans, United Spinal is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Americans with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D). Membership is free and open to all individuals with SCI/D, with over 53,000 members across 50 chapters nationwide. Known for its revolutionary advocacy efforts, United Spinal played a significant role in writing the Americans with Disabilities Act, provided important contributions to the Fair Housing Amendments Act and the Air Carrier Access Act, and was instrumental in attaining sidewalk curb ramps and accessible public transportation in New York City, which created the standard accessibility model used in many United States cities.