ICS Members

Our City is better off when people with disabilities can contribute

October 1, 2021

Our City is better off when people with disabilities can contribute
Independence Care System recognized as Leading Disability Employer by
National Organization on Disability

NEW YORK — Independence Care System (ICS) has been recognized as a 2021 Leading Disability Employer by the National Organization on Disability (NOD). ICS is a New York City-based nonprofit that is the first and only “health home” program in New York State with disability-expert staff and programs designed to promote the health and independence of people with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, and other disabilities that limit their mobility. NOD’s Leading Disability Employer designation recognizes ICS for measuring and achieving strong talent outcomes for employees with disabilities.

The NOD Leading Disability Employer Seal is a public recognition applauding organizations that are leading the way in disability inclusion and tapping into the many benefits of hiring talent with disabilities, including high rates of productivity and dedication, and greater employee engagement across the workforce.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 82.1 percent of adults with a disability in the United States were unemployed in 2020. Steady employment is a key factor in addressing economic stability, one of the five social determinants of health. Since its inception, ICS has focused on supporting members who are looking to pursue career interests and opportunities through employment.

A natural result of those years of leadership and employment advocacy was the creation of an internal ICS work culture that embraces diversity, equity and inclusion in their broadest terms. By bringing people with disabilities into the organization, not solely as members but also in key staff positions, ICS has benefited significantly. Staff with disabilities bring unique, real-life experiences and insights as people with disabilities that gives ICS leadership an essential, first-person perspective that has proven invaluable in discussions about how to best service its membership. Members of the ICS Leadership Team agree that having people with disabilities on staff makes ICS better at its mission.

“I was happy and extremely honored we were recognized in this way,” said Regina Martinez- Estela, ICS president and CEO. “The work we’ve done over the last 20 years is important. We’re an organization that talks about our core mission to live independently in the community. From day one, the ICS leadership has included people with disabilities and we have been intentional about including members and others with physical disabilities in our program development, hiring practices, and organizational development. We appreciate this important recognition of those efforts.”

“It’s great to be recognized, but 30 years after passing the Americans with Disabilities Act, the fact that so few employers are taking the steps needed to open their doors to employees with disabilities highlights just how far we’ve yet to go,” said Catherine Barufaldi, ICS Vice President of Human Resources. “Our entire organization is better off, and our city is better off when people with disabilities can contribute in these awesome ways as colleagues and as leaders. ICS is definitely better off thanks to the many contribution these staff members bring to their work every day.”

Independence Care System (ICS) supports adults in New York City who live with a wide range of physical disabilities and chronic health conditions. The well-being of ICS members rests upon three pillars: mobility, health, and independence. We help our members get the services they need to live independently, in the community, rather than become confined to nursing homes or other institutions. In collaboration with our members, their families and caregivers, we advocate for the funding of essential services including homecare and personal care, wheelchairs, and other complex rehab equipment. We educate and create partnerships with healthcare providers to advance the availability of disability competent medical care. Educational and recreational offerings enrich our members’ lives and create a welcoming community for New Yorkers with disabilities and their allies. ICS mentors help members adjust to life with a disability and gain the skills to live full and vibrant lives that reflect their individual goals.

Contact: Dean Mudgett