Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

County Urged to Create Jobs Office for Disabled

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

County Urged to Create Jobs Office for Disabled

Article excerpt

Allegheny County should create an office of employment accessibility and inclusion and set specific goals for hiring more people with disabilities, a new study recommends.

The Allegheny 365 report follows almost two years' worth of meetings and reviews. With representatives from business, academia, advocacy organizations and foundations, the committee was charged with developing an action plan to ensure "that all individuals, including those living with disabilities, could engage fully in the broad spectrum of county services 365 days of the year."

In a report released Thursday, committee members found that the county has complied with both the requirements and the spirit of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. The landmark civil rights law prohibits discrimination based on disability in areas including employment, transportation and access to public places.

"Although the committee applauds the commitment of the county ... the group concluded that a cultural and organizational metamorphosis was warranted to ensure that Allegheny County would lead the nation in its delivery of services to individuals with disabilities," the report said.

Rory Cooper, co-chairman of the committee, said the Allegheny 365 report could serve as a model for municipalities and counties across the United States.

"I am confident that it will make a positive difference in the lives of people with disabilities and their families in Allegheny County," he said of the report. Mr. Cooper is a professor at the University of Pittsburgh and director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories in the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.

The Allegheny 365 committee was created in 2010 by then-county Executive Dan Onorato. His successor, Rich Fitzgerald, said he believed the committee's report contains "a great deal of information that may be helpful in making improvements to our county, its employees and residents. …

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