All SC state agencies with 50 or more employees must have Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinators to enforce the ADA and ensure that people with disabilities can access services equally. Without these ADA coordinators, accessibility slips through the cracks and people with disabilities are unable to participate equally in society.
The majority of state agencies in South Carolina do not have ADA Coordinators, as is required by law. The short list of agencies that do have ADA coordinators can be found on the SC SILC website – only 8 total.
- Unlocking the Barrier: When the SC General Assembly is conducting oversight of state agencies, this must include oversight of the agency’s ADA procedures and processes.
Even when agencies do have ADA coordinators, these coordinators are often not trained or knowledgeable on accessibility on the American with Disabilities Act. Coordinators must be properly trained and qualified in order to effectively advocate for the disability community.
- Unlocking the Barrier: The General Assembly needs to hold agencies accountable for having ADA coordinators who are qualified.
Transportation is the key to independence and community participation. People with disabilities are twice as likely to have inadequate transportation, making it difficult to take advantage of economic and recreational opportunities available to the community.
Many environmental barriers, like crumbling sidewalks, missing curb cuts, shelter areas, and hard to read signs may deny access to multi-modal transportation.
- Unlocking the Barrier: Investments in infrastructure must embrace Complete Street standards that meet the needs of pedestrians and riders of public transit.
There are 27 Public Transit Authorities across South Carolina, but efforts to inform the community about their services are often lacking and inconsistent.
- Unlocking the Barrier: South Carolina needs new resources to fund local outreach campaigns for all Public Transit Authorities.
With routes and services changing due to the pandemic and natural disasters, it is more important than ever that this information is communicated online in a clear and accessible format. Currently, people with disabilities in South Carolina are struggling to find and understand the latest information about public transportation.
- Unlocking the Barrier: All public transit authorities in South Carolina need to implement online accessibility practices so that their communications are accessible and understandable. PTAs should utilize available trainings if unsure how to make online content accessible.
Additional Information on Public Transit Authorities Across SC: https://www.scdot.org/travel/travel-transitproviders.aspx
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit South Carolina in March 2020, people with disabilities have become 40% more likely to face unemployment than their non-disabled peers. While we rebuild our post-COVID economy and workforce, we MUST intentionally include people with disabilities in this process.
The State of South Carolina is missing a vital opportunity to become a model employer for people with and without disabilities. Job loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic is more likely for people with disabilities than the general population. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1 in 5 workers with disabilities were laid off since March, compared to 1 in 7 of the general population.
- Unlocking the Barrier: Efforts such as Employment First are significantly needed to develop strong public policy at the state level, to systematically address the barriers that are preventing South Carolinians from being employed, and to provide incentive for businesses to maintain an inclusive workforce.
Over 1,200 South Carolinians with disabilities are limited to “work activity centers” or sheltered workshop settings, where less than 5% transition into community-based employment and they may make less than one dollar per hour.
- Unlocking the Barrier: Subminimum wage should be phased out and transition into supports for competitive, community-based employment.
Community Based Services
Individuals with disabilities have been among the most significantly impacted by COVID-19, with over 1 in 3 COVID-related deaths in South Carolina coming from patients in institutions or their caregivers. To prevent further loss, South Carolina must work toward prioritizing community-based services over institutionalization.
In South Carolina, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have become dangerous hotspots for COVID-19 outbreaks. Over 1 in 3 COVID-related deaths in South Carolina are patients in institutions or their caregivers.
- Unlocking the Barrier: South Carolina needs to allocate and increase funding for home and community based services (HCBS), such as Money Follows the Person, so that more individuals with disabilities can transition out of congregate settings and into the community successfully, with necessary support.
All states are mandated to create an Olmstead Plan which would establish how the state is going to provide services to individuals with disabilities living in the community, in accordance with the The U.S. Supreme Court Olmstead Decision of 1999. 21 years later, South Carolina still has not developed an Olmstead Plan, and now 40% of COVID-related deaths come from patients and caregivers in long-term facilities.
- Unlocking the Barrier: South Carolina must create an Olmstead Plan which would detail how the state will provide services to individuals with disabilities living in the community as the preferred option, as in accordance with the law.