Today, National Disability Institute (NDI) assembled policymakers, stakeholders and thought leaders at the Ohio Union in Columbus, Ohio for a first of its kind Financial Inclusion Summit. The Summit addressed the financial knowledge and skill gaps of Americans with disabilities and the barriers that prevent their full participation in the economic mainstream.
“Twenty-six years after the signing into law of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there remain persistent barriers to economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities,” Michael Morris, Executive Director, National Disability Institute, said. “We must make it a priority in this country to connect leaders from both the disability community and financial services sector, as well as policy makers, employers, regulators, self-advocates and family members to design the next generation of collective efforts to fulfill the ADA’s promise of economic self-sufficiency. Equal opportunity must include options to build the knowledge and skills necessary to make informed financial decisions, access to financial education and coaching, affordable and accessible financial services and products, inclusion in career pathways and the ability to save and build assets.”
Said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther, “We are incredibly honored to be hosting a summit that addresses such an important issue: assuring people with disabilities have access to mainstream financial services.”
Collaborating organizations for the event included Apprisen, City of Columbus, Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council, Disability Rights Ohio, Goodwill Columbus, Ohio Bankers League, Ohio Office of the Treasurer, Ohio Statewide Independent Living Council, STABLE Account and Columbus Urban League.
As the nation’s first nonprofit dedicated exclusively to improving the financial health and future of all people across the spectrum of disability, NDI has long documented the unique financial challenges and hurdles individuals with disabilities face. Two NDI reports, The Financial Capability of Adults with Disabilities and The Banking Status and Financial Behaviors of Adults with Disabilities, provided critical data and research which served as catalysts for today’s presentation and group discussions.
Findings from the reports include:
- 81 percent of people with disabilities did not have an emergency fund to cover three months of expenses, as compared to 54 percent of people without disabilities;
- 70 percent of people with disabilities responded they could not come up with $2,000 in an emergency, as compared to 37 percent of people without disabilities;
- Only 18 percent of people with disabilities had determined their retirement savings needs, as compared to 41 percent of people without disabilities;
- Among households headed by working-age persons with disability, nearly one-fifth were unbanked (18 percent) and more than one-fourth were underbanked (28 percent); and
- Households headed by working-age persons with disability were significantly less likely to have a savings account compared to households headed by those without disability. (47 percent vs. 72 percent, respectively).
The overflow crowd at the Summit heard from a diverse set of speakers representing both public and private interests and the nonprofit sector. Special guests included: Amy Furash, Executive Director, Business Operations, JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Richard Isbell, ADA Coordinator, Office of the Mayor; Courtney Mullin, Project Manager, Ohio DB 101, Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, Employment First; Brandy Avery, Director of Financial Empowerment Services, Columbus Urban League; Stephanie Hoffer, Professor of Law, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law; Katie Frederick, Executive Director, American Council of the Blind of Ohio; Alice Coday, Financial Empowerment Specialist, National Disability Institute; and Juliana Crist, Director, Ohio STABLE Accounts, Office of the State Treasurer. Each speaker highlighted their own and/or organization’s work to help Americans with disabilities build a more financially secure and independent life.
During the morning session, Summit attendees formed working groups to identify pathways to create better economic futures for all individuals with disabilities. The goal was to develop and refine strategies to fulfill the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act “to assure equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities.” Following an afternoon break, the working groups gave their reports and recommendations to advance financial inclusion for Americans with disabilities.
As part of the day’s program, a proclamation from Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther was presented by Mr. Isbell, from the Office of the Mayor, announcing November 16, 2016 as Economic Empowerment Day. A welcome video from Mayor Ginther kicked off the event.
Visit the Columbus Financial Inclusion Summit webpage for more information. Photographs of the event are available upon request.
The Financial Inclusion Summit was made possible through lead funding from JPMorgan Chase.