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Take Your Legislator To Work!
Take Your Legislator To Work!

The Philadelphia Employment 1st Steering Committee is excited to announce Take Your Legislator to Work! The concept is simple -- individuals with a disability, who are competitively employed, are encouraged and supported to invite their legislators to visit their work place, meet with them briefly, and experience first-hand the valuable contributions people are making through their work.


General Info

The objectives of the program include:

  • To share with legislators first-hand the employ-ability of individuals with disabilities.
  • To raise awareness about the importance of community based competitive employment for ALL.
  • To give self-advocates the opportunity to share their successes and thoughts on the importance of work in their lives.
  • To counteract the “dependency” view of people with disabilities.

A similar program was held statewide in Wisconsin and was very well received. Participation included 40 employees who welcomed 28 legislators plus the governor to their workplaces. As a result of these visits 20 news articles and live news reports were seen throughout the state further increasing awareness. Often, legislators will provide the press. However, a Press Release template will be developed for your agency to release as well.

Facts and Statistics you may want to know:

  • The Employment 1st initiative is a national initiative which has been adopted in Philadelphia by Intellectual disAbilities Services (IdS). Employment 1st means: Expecting, encouraging, developing, creating and rewarding integrated employment in the workforce at minimum or competitive wages and benefits as the first preferred outcome of working age youth and adults with disabilities.
  • According to the most recent American Community Survey (2010), 11% of Pennsylvanians between the ages of 21 and 64, who are not institutionalized, have a disability.
  • Many people with disabilities are held back by the uninformed attitudes of others who deem them unemployable. As of July 2012 the national unemployment rate for people with disabilities was 13.6%, compared to 8.4% for people without disabilities - that’s 60% higher.
  • Since the overall unemployment rate in PA as of September 2012 was 8.2% as compared to the national average of 7.8%, it follows that the unemployment rate for Pennsylvanians with disabilities is also higher than that of the national average.
  • Unemployment is a real issue for many and a crisis in the lives of people with disabilities.
  • Employment for people with disabilities makes financial sense for the individual and our communities by providing freedom from a life of dependency and poverty.
  • It also makes sense for businesses. Studies have shown that employing people with disabilities as an overall Diversity and Inclusion program can increase overall employee satisfaction, customer affinity and decrease employee turnover and training costs.
  • Most importantly, people with disabilities want to work! Employment provides meaningful activity and personal resources, a vehicle to contribute, and for many is fundamental to quality of life and the key to self-worth. Just like all of us, people with disabilities want to live as full citizens and employment is an equalizing agent.

For more information, please email Tracy Katz.

Resources and

Resources and Materials

To download any of these files, simply click on the link in your desired file format. If the file does not open, you can right click on the link and select "Save Target As". You can then select where to save the file on your computer and open it from there.

Information Packet for Facilitators (PDF) (WORD)

Information Packet for Participants (PDF) (WORD)

Participant Information Form (PDF) (WORD)

Find Your Legislator!

See Our Legislators
at Work!

See Our Legislators at Work!

Photo of Michael Urtz and State Representative Greg VitaliCommunity Integrated Services was honored to host State Representative, Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) of the 166th District for the Take Your Legislator to Work! initiative. Rep. Vitali had the pleasure of meeting Michael Urtz at the Havertown Health and Fitness Center where he was able to witness Customized Employment, a business within a business, in action! Michael has a "business within a business" at the gym where he partners with the facility's owner, Mark Rodney, to meet the gym's need in providing fresh, clean towels to their members. With the assistance and guidance of Business Developer, Devin Hamilton, Michael invested in a washer and dryer, stationed at the fitness center, to assist with the club's need as their Spa Towel Specialist for two and a half years. According to the owner, it is more cost effective for him to partner with Michael to fill this need as opposed to an outside contractor. Mr. Rodney is pleased with the results and the bottom line of his business. Michael is supported by a Customized Employment Specialist to assist him with the washing, drying and folding of the towels. Patrons of the gym appreciate this service as all fitness facilities do not offer this perk. It is evidenced by Michael's enthusiasm that he enjoys his work and takes pride as a business owner. CIS thanks Rep. Vitali who took time out of his busy schedule to meet Michael, and see first hand the valuable contributions that people with disabilities, in the community he represents, are making through their work. Employment is for everyone!

Please check back to see more stories of legislators visiting the workplaces of individuals with disabilities.