Published on April 4th, 2017 | by Aasha Francis0
Wright Celebrates Disability Awareness Day & Career Symposium
As the nation prepares to celebrate the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26, 2017, Wright College renewed its commitment to diversity and inclusion by hosting a two-day event highlighting disability awareness and employment for individuals with disabilities on March 30 – March 31st.
On March 30th, the Disability Access Center at Wright College organized Disability Awareness Day and Resource Fair. In her opening address, Dean Romell Murden-Woldu emphasized that one of our roles as an institution; supporting the needs of students with disabilities, is to connect our students with allies and associations in Chicago that help enhance skills, policies, practices, and civic life for individuals with disabilities. Organizations like Access Living, Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, Social Security Administration, Thresholds, Veterans Club, Wright Wellness Center, Disability Rights, Department of Human Services, Learning Disabilities Association of Illinois, Anixter Center and others participated and shared information about their services during the Resource Fair. Students from a Human Diversity class led by Professor Jessica Choe, and CPS students from Jackie Vaughn Occupational School were among over a hundred enthusiastic attendees at the Resource Fair.
On March 31st, the Disability Access Center, the Office of the Dean of Instruction, and Career Planning and Placement Center jointly hosted Disability Career Symposium at Wright College. Wright College President David Potash welcomed participants and shared information about Wright’s Academic Planning initiative that includes plans to strengthen the college’s commitment to equity and diversity in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. The Disability Career Symposium brought together disability services professionals and career services professionals from institutions of higher education like Loyola University, Northern Illinois University, Harper College, Trinity College, Morton College, University of Chicago, and others. Professionals from these institutions learned about commonly asked questions about ADA and employment from our keynote speaker Peter Berg, Project Director of Technical Assistance at Great Lakes ADA Center. A distinguished panel of employers from organizations like Accenture, TCF Bank, Discover Financial Services, The Chicago Lighthouse, and Access Living answered questions on best practices for inclusive hiring, moderated by Commissioner Karen Tamley from the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.
In Illinois, only 35% of individuals with disabilities are currently employed, compared to 75% employment rate for individuals without disabilities. Events like the Disability Awareness Day and Disability Career Symposium highlight the need to include a focus on community support services and employment for students with disabilities in conversations about their educational goals at Wright.