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ID Teens Learn Disabilities Shouldn’t Matter at Work

June 23, 2008

Boise, ID – Disabilities shouldn't be a barrier to getting a job or living independently, and junior and senior high school students with disabilities from around the state are learning that firsthand this week. They're in Boise to get expert advice on how to make smooth transitions from school and home to living on their own - and that includes standing up for their rights in the workplace.

Tracy Warren, with the Idaho Council on Developmental Disabilities, says the most popular part of the "Idaho Youth Leadership Development Conference" is the job-shadowing. It's often the first opportunity for a teen to explore a good career fit, she explains.

"Finding out about what the job is really like, what kind of training is required, and just learning more 'real life' information about that job."

The conference coincides with Congress' efforts to fast-track an update to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Warren says advocates have been pushing to update the groundbreaking civil rights legislation, because they believe court rulings have weakened the law's intent since it was enacted in the 1990s.

"We're very watchful that parts of the ADA are not made weaker, which would be detrimental to people with disabilities."

Students at the conference will meet with the governor and other elected leaders to gain confidence and learn about the importance of speaking up for their rights. They'll also study the prospective ADA update, notes Warren. Information about the conference and the legislation is available online, at

Deborah Smith/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - ID