• Krystle Bernier

The ADA Was Signed 28 Years Ago Today

Updated: Dec 17, 2018

VIABILITY's history pre-dates the signing of the ADA by nearly 20 years

Today marks the 28th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was signed on July 26th, 1990 and prohibited discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The #ADA ensures that all people, including those with disabilities, have #access to public places and #opportunities. This includes access to jobs, schools, transportation, public/private places open to the general public, and more. The act further requires that businesses shall provide reasonable accommodations to provide access to people with disabilities.

access to jobs, schools, transportation, public/private places open to the general public, and more

VIABILITY has been a #leader in services for people with disabilities for over 40 years and believes individuals with disabilities and other societal disadvantages are an essential resource for our country’s future. Our mission is to help build a world in which individuals with disabilities and other disadvantages realize their full potential. VIABILITY’s history pre-dates the signing of the ADA by nearly 20 years. Please see below for a brief history of VIABILITY’s programs and impact on the community.

1970’s – Two innovative programs are founded, focused on building the vocational skills of patients at the now abolished state schools.

- Incentive Community Program, later divided into ICE and AIM, at the Northampton State Hospital.

- Carval Industries at the Belchertown State School.

1980’s - The small state school programs expand and move into new territory, forming into nonprofit organizations, that focus on community based programs.

- Sheltered workshops are closed

- Community Enterprises and Human Resources Unlimited are formed.

- Supported education programs and Pyramid project are created to address the continuing education needs of people with developmental disabilities.

- The first psycho-social clubhouse modeled program is opened to expand employment opportunities for Western MA residents living with mental illness.

- Growing Nationally: ICE expands programs across MA and CT.

- Growing in Recognition: ICE becomes a nationally accredited rehabilitation agency through CARF.

1990’s – The services provided by these nonprofit organizations quickly gain attention in the community and services begin to expand rapidly.

- RISE and Greater Boston Rehabilitation Service merge with Community Enterprises in order to provide more comprehensive services for people with disabilities.

- The Pyramid project relocates and secures Medicaid funding, enabling them to serve even more people with disabilities.

- The clubhouse model expands across Western MA and into Central MA with new locations in Northampton and Southbridge.

- The AIM program begins purchasing homes in the community, enabling participants to experience having a home of their own.

- A new branch of employment services and day habilitation opens in Islandia, NY.

- A new staffing service, which is a full service, temporary staffing agency opens to augment government funding.

- HRU is awarded the Pioneer Valley Excellence Award, as well as the Employer of the Year Award from the Employer’s Association of Western MA.

- Employer partners begin to receive local and statewide recognition for their commitment to hiring individuals with disabilities.

2000’s – Both CE and HRU programs begin to gain national recognition, form new partnerships, and begin building a foundation for excellence and innovation in the human service industry.

- A new corporate employment and training program is created in partnership with Walgreens.

- CE is awarded the Best Practices Award by the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.

- HRU purchases Custom Packaging in order to provide meaningful work for the ETS Career Services program.

- The Adult Family Care program is launched under the community living division.

- Began operating the Next Step program, a HUD permanent housing project.

- Employer Partners begin to receive national recognition for their commitment to hiring individuals with disabilities with Six Flags New England being honored with the National Employer of the Year award from APSE.

2010’s – Now successful companies, each with their own rich history, HRU and CE look towards strategic growth and decide to merge their companies and myriad of programs in order to be BETTER TOGETHER.

- A national consulting division is launched in order to meet the diversity and inclusion initiatives of corporate partners.

- CE receives the Community Partnership Award from the Mutual of America Foundation, as well as the National Best Practices Award from APSE.

- New branches of employment services open in Oklahoma and Rhode Island.

- Two additional clubhouses are opened in Holyoke, MA and Pittsfield, MA.

- A new contract is obtained from the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission to provide pre-employment transitional services to high school students.

- CE and HRU merge to become VIABILITY with comprehensive services that help people with disabilities and other disadvantages realize their full potential.