Today El Paso News is proud to announce that long-time community disability rights advocate George Zavala has joined our team in bringing you important news and information. Zavala has worked for more than ten years advocating for the civil rights of individuals with disabilities. Although America’s public policy has been to be inclusive of Americans with disabilities since 1968 – when Congress enacted the first legislation enhancing the quality of life for Americans with disabilities – federal, state and local governments have been hesitant to enforce the laws for various reasons, most, of which, are because of the costs involved. El Paso, like the rest of the nation, has a lackluster history of enforcing and adopting the laws designed to provide individuals with disabilities better access.
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 codified the rights for disabled Americans. The Act is sometimes referred to as the Civil Rights Act of the Handicapped. The law became controversial in America because of the costs involved in removing obstacles from buildings that impeded the free mobility of individuals with disabilities. In 1990 Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to further provide access to Americans with disabilities. The ADA prohibits the discrimination of individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private spaces that are open to the public.
Over the years Zavala has advocated for the rights of individuals with disabilities on non-profit boards and through his podcast, The Accessibility Corner. He has been the chairperson for the city’s Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) for the Mass Transit Department and the Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC). Zavala has also served on the boards of the non-profits Volar and the Arc of El Paso.
Currently Zavala participates in Sun Metro’s LIFT Passengers Advisory Committee (PAC).
Zavala’s column, The Accessibility Corner with George Zavala, will focus on El Paso’s public policy for individuals with disabilities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 9% of El Paso’s population that is under 65 years of age experiences some form of disability. In 2016, The Texas Investment Council published a report analyzing the demographics of individuals with disabilities. The report found that “Texas has the second largest number of individuals with disabilities of all the states.” About 12% of Texas’ population is disabled the report found. However, according to the Texas report, almost half of Texas’ disabled population resides in ten counties, one of which is El Paso.
George Zavala will focus on the public policy issues faced by El Paso’s disabled community in his upcoming column, The Accessibility Corner with George Zavala. Zavala will discuss public policy for the disabled and talk to advocates, leaders and politicians about what they are doing for El Paso’s disabled population.
Please welcome George Zavala to El Paso News.