Senator Tom Harkin retired at the end of 2014. He was thought of as a public figure cross partisan admiration, and in his final speech, it was of no surprise to his colleagues that is most poignant words were for the concern of disabled individuals.
It was of no surprise because Senator Tom Harkin authored the Americans With Disabilities Act. Personally, I think the Americans With Disabilities Act is a joke. I do not know Senator Harkin personally, so he maybe the nicest of human beings, but he has no idea what an individual with a disability needs. It’s contents possibly, and only possibly, assist you in getting to the door of the party, but not inside to enjoy what everybody else is. Makes sense?
I’m curious as to why he was so well thought of, particularly by both sides of the isle; that’s almost unheard of. Was it because Congress truly thought the American With Disabilities Act was an incredible piece of legislation, or was it because Senator Harkin wrote the only piece of legislation regarding American’s with disabilities?
In his final speech, Senator Harkin spoke of his greatest disappointment while in office:
“How many of us know that the unemployment rate among adult Americans with disabilities who want to work and can work is over 60 percent?! Yes, you heard me right: almost two out of three people with disabilities cannot find a job. That is a blot on our national character.”
That just doesn’t sit well with me. If Congress could crack it’s mind open just a tiny bit, that 60% number would be much higher. Why? I am well aware there are individuals so severely disabled they are unable to work at any type of job, regardless of the environmental control technology given them. However, I have yet to speak with an individual who is disabled who does not want to work.
So if you took all of the individuals who want to work and allow them the means necessary to work, more would be able to and that 60% number would be much higher.
But the paltry programs that used to be in existence to help a disabled individual work are now almost nonexistent. Fifteen years ago, programs existed to help you get a computer so you could work from home, or help modify your vehicle to accommodate a wheelchair so you could work outside the home.
Same program…Six months ago, I applied for a piece of software, somewhere in the neighborhood of $200, that would help me in the business I started two years ago. I was denied. Reason? “Beyond the scope of what is reasonable and customary for the disabled individual to request.” They could’ve just said this program is one level above nonexisting… That explains it much better.
Being disabled twenty-one years, I’ve learned to read the signs very carefully as to what to expect in the upcoming months and within the next year or two. The stripping of work based programs has been in effect for over the last decade. First the wait time gets longer, then your case worker is changed, then departments are split up, then you hear phrases like “reasonable and customary.”
For all of these reasons and many more, I decided to take action and start my own business two years ago. I had worked outside the home multiple times since my injury, but between unreliable homecare to get me to work on time, and the cost of having to hire a separate assistant while at work, I was barely making any money and my health rapidly deteriorated.
Now, I make my own hours. That has its pros and its con. If you are not a self-motivated individual, you may want to work from home for another company instead of starting your own. But either way, the pros heavily outweighed the con. I’m pretty self-motivated, and when I’m not, I ask someone to give me a little kick in the tush.
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