Celebrating National Disability Independence Day

  • Published
  • By Adrienne Burns, PSNS & IMF Public Affairs
  • Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility

This July 26 will mark the 32nd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, celebrated across the country as National Disability Independence Day. The ADA was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, July 26, 1990. It was a landmark event that paved the way to establish equal opportunity for people with disabilities. It marked a shift in thinking, establishing disability rights as civil rights.

The ADA was established to protect people with disabilities from discrimination, in much the same way other civil rights laws protect people from discrimination based on race, color, gender, national origin, age and religion. The ADA is a commitment from the federal government that people with disabilities be given the same opportunities as everyone else to be considered for job opportunities, obtain goods and services, and participate in state and local government programs.

Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility has long supported and advocated for employees with disabilities. Most recently, in January 2022, the CrossAbilities Employee Resource Group and PSNS & IMF Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility leaders sat down with Skookum Contract Services to knowledge share about supporting employees with disabilities. Skookum is a local leader in employing individuals with disabilities, including contract employees at the shipyard.

Likewise, CrossAbilities is dedicated to serving as a strategic partner to advance awareness, create inclusion and promote self-advocacy for people with disabilities at PSNS & IMF. The goal of CrossAbilities is to share the command’s commitment to disability inclusion both inside and outside of the gates and to help PSNS & IMF be a leader in the federal service for employment of individuals with disabilities.

This goal works in alignment with the broader Department of Defense baseline goals for civilian workforce representation of individuals with disabilities. Every military department and DoD component is tasked with achieving or exceeding a 12% goal for individuals with disabilities and a 2% goal for individuals with targeted disabilities in their civilian workforce.

It is important to keep in mind that not all disabilities are visible. The Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, defines a person with a disability as, "someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a history or record of such an impairment; or is perceived by others as having such an impairment.”

Any person who falls into one or more of these categories is protected by the ADA. Because the ADA is a law and not a benefit program, no one needs to apply for protection or accommodations. Many organizations and situations encountered in everyday life are already mandated to follow the requirements of the ADA.

The diversity of our workforce is essential to its success, and PSNS & IMF is committed to supporting a workplace of diverse experiences, ideas, abilities and backgrounds. Individuals with disabilities bring new perspectives to our organization and help us see new ways of meeting the mission. We celebrate their independence and everything they bring to our workforce.

For more information on disability inclusion or ways you can support individuals with disabilities at PSNS & IMF, contact CrossAbilities at psnsimf.crossabi.fct@navy.mil.