Press Releases

Former Six-Term United States Congressman Anthony “Tony” Coelho will rally advocates to call for an Employment First Georgia

Coelho, an original author of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), will encourage Georgia to commit resources and policy to support employment for people with disabilities

Former US Congressman from California, Anthony “Tony” Coelho, will speak to advocates and have an audience with the Georgia Senate to encourage the establishment of Employment First policy and other related initiatives vital to persons with disabilities. Since the ADA passed nearly 30 years ago, Georgia still lags behind many other states with regard to robust and equal employment access for people living with disabilities. For instance:

  • There are places in Georgia where it is common practice to pay a person with a disability less compensation than a person without a disability.
  • The waiting list for a waiver to support work and vital community services includes 8,698 people with disabilities as of December 2016.
  • Georgia serves a lower percentage of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with waivers to support employment and life in the community than any other state in the country except Nevada and Mississippi.
  • Employment First means that employment in an integrated setting paying at or above minimum wage must be the first and preferred priority for all workers with disabilities.

Thursday, February 23
     • 9:00 am: 150 people with disabilities and their allies will attend the press conference and gather for training
        and strategizing before visiting legislators on Employment Advocacy Day at the Capitol.
     • 9:15 – 9:45 am: Press Conference

Central Presbyterian Church (Tull Fellowship Hall)
201 Washington St. SW, Atlanta, GA 30303
(Enter off Washington St. into the gated courtyard and follow signage “GCDD Advocacy Day”)


  • The Honorable Anthony “Tony” Coelho (D-CA, retired)
  • Eric E. Jacobson, Executive Director, Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities
  • Elizabeth Appley, Employment First Coalition Coordinator
  • Georgia Legislators
  • Several advocates who will share personal stories:  Josh Wells, Kurt Vogel

Disability advocates are calling for Georgia to follow current laws, including prioritizing integrated work environments and paying at least minimum wage for people with disabilities. Among other issues, legislation also needs to immediately address the continually growing waiting list of waivers to support employment and community supports, which is quickly approaching 10,000 people. Supporting employment of people with disabilities will conserve limited tax dollars, reduce dependence on government benefits and increase financial independence. Employment of people with disabilities will unlock the significant contributions that people of all abilities are ready and able to make, working together side by side. The net result will maximize the strength and vitality of our state.  

GCDD, a federally funded independent state agency, works to bring about social and policy changes that promote opportunities for persons with developmental disabilities and their families to live, learn, work, play and worship in Georgia communities. A developmental disability is a chronic mental and/or physical disability that occurs before age 22 and is expected to last a lifetime.

Valerie Meadows Suber, Public Information Director
Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities
404-657-2122 (office); 404-801-7873 (mobile)  
Twitter: @georgiacouncil