Mayor Eric Johnson proposed a new ordinance on Monday, October 4th to add a Commission of Disabilities. He held a news conference at 4:00pm on Monday regarding people with disabilities and how this commission would advise the mayor and others on their needs, rights, and privileges.
In a press release, Mayor Eric Johnson stated, “As we build for our city’s future, we must build a city for all.” He continued, “and that means we must ensure that everyone has a seat at the table. Together, with the help of the new commission, we can make Dallas a national leader in providing equitable opportunities for all of our residents.”
The mayor acknowledged the way Houston has provided these means and how they went about the situation. He kept their plans in mind while proposing the new ordinance. The mayor also spoke of Jack Evans, who was the mayor of Dallas and ran the Employment of People with Disabilities in 1982. Mayor Evans had the help of the Dallas Mayor’s Committee to ensure that all of the areas were covered for people with disabilities. Today, that committee is still in place and better known as EmployAbility.
According to Dallas Morning News, EmployAbility’s chair, Michael Quezada, a disabled Army veteran, shared that his non-profit organization would partner with the city of Dallas to make this a success. He said, “Now is the time. We can create a better workforce, break down those barriers and just have a conversation. It’s that simple.”
Jaynie Schultz, the chair of the City Council’s Workforce, Education, and Equity Committee received the proposed ordinance from Mayor Johnson. Schultz spoke during the news conference stating, “The commission would help provide equity,” and added, “the creation of this commission will assist all of us in hearing the voices of those too often ignored.” She continued with, “we will better understand those with diverse abilities, better support those with special needs, and learn from those who deserve our respect for working with challenges we do not recognize.”
According to Dallas Morning News, Mayor Eric Johnson said, “Usually, we’re talking about skin color, ethnicity, socioeconomics status, gender identity, sexual orientation, and even age, but rarely do we talk in any great detail about how we provide for those who live with disabilities in our city.”
The proposed new ordinance would help better the needs of housing, transportation, jobs, and other amenities for the disabled community. The Commission of Disabilities would consist of fifteen members, and all of those individuals will be appointed by the Dallas City Council. When it comes to the chair of the commission, Mayor Eric Johnson will appoint that individual.
The members of the commission would include residents who have a disability. The group would hold their meetings six times a year or more. Each individual with this new commission would hold a two-year term.
The Dallas population is approximately 1.3 million people. Seven percent of people who are 65 years old and younger are disabled within Dallas.
October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. According to their website, the theme for 2021 is “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion.” This month is focused on the Covid-19 pandemic and the workforce. Their goal is to ensure that people with disabilities have access to employment and involvement within the community. They state that policymakers can make a big difference for the disabled community during the Awareness Month of October and beyond.