Notable Quotes on Improving the Employment Situation for Multicultural Individuals with Disabilities in Illinois

“…We can leverage our successful Asian Americans businesses…to gain access for Asian Americans with disability to jobs and opportunities….I’ll be happy to listen and figure out what we could do to support you, to gain access to… job opportunities and maybe even business opportunities.”

George Mui

White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

“I’m trying to learn more about what ADOPT has been able to accomplish, what their goals are, and to see if as a business owner, I can offer any insights as to how to better quite honestly market and present the idea to business owners of becoming more helpful to the mission.”

Billy Dec

White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

“ADOPT has really been instrumental in helping our program. They’ve really provided a lot of advocacy on behalf of us towards DRS and towards other agencies in the community. They really have been great in linking us all together and allowing us to collaborate. And we really couldn’t have really had this program without them…”

Nick Kinsella

Heartland Human Care Services

“We have to do better job of connecting the skills that employers need with the training and such that individuals with disabilities are being given so that those matches can be made so employers can say we found qualified individuals with disabilities for our positions. So a lot of pieces to this puzzle of employment, and it starts with the families, it starts with the service providers transforming their minds and ideas about individuals with disabilities, their family members, the people that they serve, et cetera, and then getting the systems to support that through their training and support that they provide
during the transition process, during the employment process and beyond to help someone stay employed. So a lot of opportunities.”

Robin Jones

Great Lakes Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Center

“I’m working on my master’s in biology… this opportunity is made possible because of DRS… I’m very thankful to … ADOPT to make this opportunity possible… I’ve applied and I was recently accepted to University of Wisconsin, Madison to pursue a PhD. I hope my story is helpful and inspiring for policies to be made and I wish more people had similar opportunities that I’ve had.”

Phu Duong


“ADOPT and the experience with them have helped me really have the experience with the deaf community because it’s really an invisible disability and it really helps to open it up and reveal it. So there’s been many years of oppression with people with disabilities, and we need to speak out. So adopt has helped us do that.”

Manako Yabea


“…when I graduated, I was really excited to be done and get a job. I thought that it would be an easy process, just like anybody else…I always knew I had a disability course, but I did not know that it was going to be that difficult.”

Jenny Carlton


“Carla was interviewed in November at a beauty salon in her community. There she obtained employment organizing the brushes, sweeping the floor, and washing customers’ hair. Carla’s parents have reported that since she started working, her motivation and confidence have increased as well as her verbal communication.”

Carla Sanchez


“…when it comes to the Asian American community, we have specific needs that are typically not reflected in disability services… If you look at typical disability providers, they are not run, nor are they staffed, by Asian Americans.”

Rahnee Patrick

Access Living

“I’m the president of the Roger Park chamber of commerce. We’re partnered with ADOPT. They’re doing a wonderful job. And I love these stories [about ADOPT’s impact in the community]. I mean, it’s really an important, it’s an important program.”

Bill Morton

Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce

“I think the work of ADOPT in raising awareness and outreach is so important… And we are being divided by being different. And so we framed immigration as an issue of exclusion. People are excluded
because they don’t have the immigrant status. People are excluded because they have disabilities. People are excluded because their work is not considered as work… And it opened us that there’s so many issues that are actively interconnecting or intersecting with each other. And [disability] is one of those issues.”

Jerry Clarito

Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment

“It has been great to come here and hear from members of the community who have been who have really been affected by the work that’s been done by ADOPT. And it shows ADOPT’s impact with our communities. And about these cuts that have been proposed by the governor and the legislature, they hurt our communities across the board… ”

Brandon Lee

Asian Americans Advancing Justice

“One thing I like about working with ADOPT is that they’re very innovative about empowering other organizations. You’ve heard all these examples about how they help drive funding to other organizations. They’re not trying to do it all themselves. They’re being smart and strategic about trying to drive funding to the places that will most effectively and efficiently use dollars to serve diverse
people with disabilities. And we also can help to connect among our own organizations and empower others.”

Ami Gandhi

South Asian American Policy and Research Institute

“Indo American center and ADOPT are collaborating on housing and work force initiatives to assist clients with disabilities increase their self-sufficiency and independence. And then I wanted to first mention the new shelter is going to be fully ADA compliant, which is an important development. Apna Ghar is working with ADOPT to think outside the box. What may not seem like disabilities maybe on the surface, but to help individuals, people who are experiencing temporary disabling conditions due to trauma, Apna Ghar and ADOPT have been working on that important initiative.”

Reema Kapur

South Asian American Policy and Research Institute

“…it’s so sad that government and the state does not have money to spend where it’s most needed. They’re funding many other things where it’s less important, but this is so important. This is human life. And these are the people who can bring value on the table.”

Sadrudin Noorami

Asian American Coalition of Chicago

“ADOPT has allowed us the opportunity to create the space to talk about private issues and matters that typically don’t leave our family settings. Disability in the Arab American community, like all our
communities, is a private topic. Like all communities, it’s a taboo, a shame, a struggle. Not seen nor heard… AAFS really is ADOPT in its mission and in partnership we will ensure that we bring back ADOPT. And this is why Arab American family services is here today, is because we support you, we
support ADOPT and we support all our communities as one. Disabled individuals and families are part of the community. And this is something that we have to come more together, work more together on issues.”

Nareman Taha

Arab American Family Services

“When you want to deal with a problem, you deal with the whole community, every person, including people who have challenge with issue of disability only when you can really accommodate people with disability, you can start leveraging their ability… So how can the issue of people with disability be elevated to be an integral part of a community issue?”

C.W. Chan

Chinatown Vision Planning Steering Committee, Chinatown for a Better Chinese American Community (CBAC)

“I’m more committed than ever before to assure that we are moving forward to meet the needs of our
communities… You as organization leaders have the vision, the knowledge, and the experience to help us pave our way into the future.”

Francisco Alvarado

Illinois Division of Rehabilitation Services

“I’ve heard a lot of folks talk about intersectional work so also just reminding folks the connection, solidarities between the queer community and the disability community. So there’s a lot of very similar stigma and shame and being in the closet, those kind of phrases that you hear a lot in the disability activist work that were used way back in the ’70s still with the gay and lesbian

Liz Thomson

Audience Member

“I think what [ADOPT’s work] did to our community is normalize what we talk about on disability.”

Kaoru W

Cambodian Association of Illinois

“Disability informed my future work, for example, in human rights more generally. And so if we can kind of connect those dots, as I think Ami and some others had mentioned, with how disability is a civil rights issue intersects with larger human rights issues…”

Moizza Khan

Illinois Organization For Adolescents

“We’ve shared information about disability, and worked together to address disability within our various ethnic communities to help individuals get connected to disability services, get connected to multicultural organizations, and one of the amazing things that we, ADOPT and DRS, are very proud
of is that we got six multicultural organizations funding to hire full time staff to help individuals get connected to jobs and to DRS. And that’s huge.”

Jae Jin Pak

Asians with Disability Outreach Project Think-Tank

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  •  For more information about donating to Asians with Disabilities Outreach Project Think-Tank (ADOPT), please contact:
    Keenan Cutsforth
    Assistant Dean for Advancement
    College of Applied Health Sciences
    University of Illinois at Chicago
    808 South Wood Street
    CMET, Suite 167, MC 518
    Chicago, IL 60612