EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ – Easterseals New Jersey, the largest disability services not for-profit in New Jersey, has launched a significant statewide campaign determined to knock down the physical and systemic barriers keeping people with disabilities from getting “on the other side” of their goals. The nonprofit identified six key barriers that, if taken down, will make New Jersey a more accessible state where people with disabilities can thrive.
To make it a reality, Easterseals New Jersey has created an On the Other Side tool kit that makes it easy for residents to take action in any one or all of the following “Six to Fix” barriers: (1) Make Telehealth reimbursable so people with mental illness can get help (2) Increase state funding to improve Direct Support Professional pay and expand access to these services (3) Expand employment opportunities (4) Raise awareness about diverse communications (5) Change stigma surrounding critical public assistance programs, such as food stamps and affordable housing, and (6) Create virtual socialization opportunities.
Easterseals CEO and President Brian Fitzgerald says the organization has mobilized its supporters to advocate for policy changes, but progress will only happen if everyone in New Jersey sits up, takes notice, and takes action. One in four people in America have a disability, making it likely that virtually everyone in New Jersey has a disability themselves or knows someone who does.
“The barriers people with disabilities face are not new, but that doesn’t mean they can’t go away,” said Mr. Fitzgerald. “When you help someone get to the other side of whatever is in their way – fear, crisis, stigma and doubt – they become fearless. Once fearless, there’s nothing standing in the way of what they can do.”
The campaign also highlights stories of individuals have achieved specific life goals with assistance from Easterseals NJ and other human health services organizations. One success story, in the category of raising awareness about diverse communications, is that of Lynne, who has a developmental disability of being hard of hearing. After working for more than 30 years as an office assistant, Lynne lost her job because of COVID-19. Finding a new job, especially with her disability, proved nearly impossible until she was paired with an Easterseals Employment Specialist. They worked together to help Lynne apply to jobs, hone her interview skills, and learn COVID safety guidelines for safety on the job. Lynne secured a job as a clerk at a local QuickChek and maintains this would not have been possible if her coach hadn’t helped her new employer hire someone with a disability.
To learn more about the On the Other Side program and specific actions people can take to help rectify the “Six to Fix” areas, visit Easterseals New Jersey landing page or watch a quick video: OTOS Video.
About Easterseals NJ
For more than 100 years, Easterseals New Jersey has helped individuals and families with disabilities or special needs live, learn, work and play in their communities with equality, dignity and independence. Annually, over 5,000 people in New Jersey with developmental disabilities receive services in programs designed to help them achieve independence and full community-integration. For more information on Easterseals New Jersey and its statewide disability services, visit http://www.eastersealsnj.org./