ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — We all know the importance of putting in a fair day’s work. The Senate and Assembly passed legislation that would help the disabled community gain more job opportunities. The legislation still awaits the Governor’s signature. 

Lawmakers and advocates are expanding The Preferred Source Program for Individuals with Disabilities. The program has been in place for the last 50 years and advocates say it’s time for a change. 

“So we know that this is a workforce that is dedicated, that is trustworthy, that is valued, that wants to come to work, and if we’re really talking about integration and inclusiveness and access then we should be walking the walk,” said Senator John Mannion, a key sponsor of the bill.

The upgraded bill also changed the threshold requirement when it comes to the ratio of disabled and non-disabled people. “But the threshold drops from 75% of individuals with disabilities to 50%. So it might seem like the reverse but it’s actually to provide a more integrated, a more inclusive setting which is good for everybody that’s involved,” said Mannion.

Maureen O’Brien, President of NYS Industries for the Disabled says, the program now wants to see those with disabilities working side by side with someone who’s non-disabled. She also adds that the benefits of employment are crucial for any person’s confidence. 

“So think about you and I go out to a function on a Friday night the first question most people ask you is ‘Amal what do you do for a living?’ So we have a 65% unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities in New York State. All of the great things that happen for an individual to be employed, being part of their community, all of those great things,” she said.

O’Brien also noted that this is a great step in the right direction for the disabled community.