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500 Join Hands Around the Idaho Statehouse Today

July 26, 2010

BOISE, Idaho - Five hundred people are expected to be at the Idaho Statehouse in Boise today, joining hands to circle the building to mark the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The civil rights law aimed to end discrimination in the workplace and require access to buildings, transportation and communication for people of all abilities.

Bobby Ball, executive director of the Idaho Task Force on the Americans with Disabilities Act, says the Gem State gets kudos for going beyond the basics of the federal law when it comes to requiring things like power-operated doors, curb cuts for sidewalks at intersections and accessible parking spaces.

"Idaho incorporates all of the accessibility rules into the state's building code. Access to the built environment here has definitely increased."

Ball says the one area where people with disabilities still are not on equal footing with others is employment. She has found that potential employers usually cite cost as their top concern when considering hiring a person with a disability. Their perception is that workplace modifications will be expensive, but research shows they are not, she says.

"Your average cost of an accommodation is anywhere from $300 to $500. A huge percent are just free."

The Idaho Task Force on the ADA is kicking off a five-year project to educate people with disabilities about work possibilities and to coach employers who have concerns about hiring a person with a disability, Ball adds.

"Hands Around the Capitol" takes place at the Statehouse, between 6th and 8th streets and State and Jefferson streets, at 11 a.m.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - ID