Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Obama on Disability Employment Awareness

In recognition of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, Barack Obama recently wrote a statement addressed to Americans with disabilities, which summarizes his intended plans and policies related to increasing the employment rate among those with disabilities:

It's a pleasure for me to join you in celebrating National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Americans with disabilities are an essential and underutilized part of our workforce. As President, I will work hard to help you achieve full equality—in the workplace, in education, and in all aspects of life.

I don't have to tell you the dismal statistics—an employment rate 40 points below that of working-age individuals without disabilities and a federal failure to meet the disability employment targets of Executive Order 13173.

This must change—and I know that it can. Because I know that we can change it. One of the most important measures of any society is how well it enables each person to live up to his or her potential. Fairness is important, but providing you with the supports and services so you can succeed goes beyond that—it goes to the heart of our nation's future. Because in an era of intense global competition, we can't afford not to put everyone to work. You shouldn't be locked out of the workplace. Children with disabilities shouldn't be languishing in failing schools that doom them to a life of second class citizenship. Your talents and energies must not go to waste.

America faces great challenges right now and we won't meet them without the help of everyone who can work. It's that simple. That's why it is long past time for us to break down the barriers that still exclude people with disabilities in this country and deprive you of true equality of opportunity and independence.

One of the first places we need change is in the workplace, and the federal government should take the lead. That's why my administration will be a model for other employers in hiring and accommodating employees with disabilities. Before leaving office, President Clinton issued Executive Order No. 13173, which mandated hiring an additional 100,000 federal employees with disabilities within five years. Eight years later, this goal still hasn't been reached. I will reinstate this executive order early in my term as President and designate a senior White House official to assure that all federal departments and agencies do their part to help meet this goal. I will also vigorously enforce the Rehabilitation Act, including Section 503 requiring the federal government and employers who are federal contractors to "take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities."

In addition, I will launch an aggressive effort to educate employers about tax benefits designed to encourage them to hire employees with disabilities, such as the Disabled Access Tax Credit, the Tax Deduction for Architectural and Transportation Barrier Removal, and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. They are underused and our employers can't afford to miss out on these benefits any longer.

These actions will help many adults with disabilities increase their contributions to our society, and I believe we must do even more for the next generation. That's why I will fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and ensure that it is effectively implemented and enforced.

This is a pivotal election, and it's our time for change. I hope you'll get involved, because I can't do this alone. I need everyone to contact their friends and family to make sure they know about the issues and where the candidates stand. I need everyone who can to make phone calls and knock on doors to get the word out. Together, we can win this election. Together, we can achieve full equality for Americans with disabilities. Together, we can create the changes we seek.


Barack Obama

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  • I wish there was such a political move in Finland.

    Sadly, attitudes towards disability here are still in the ealry 1900s.

    Pathetic really, considering how advanced Finland likes to think it is.

    By Blogger David N. Andrews MEd (Distinction), at 3:18 AM  

  • Wow, that's awesome.

    Is the federal government's policy of hiring disabled workers really only as old as the Clinton administration?

    Also, I gave you a blog award.

    By Blogger Lindsay, at 11:49 PM  

  • What he really means is, "we are going to cut your welfare... Work! or starve"

    (certainly this is the tenour of welfare reform in the UK)

    This has effectively been the hidden message of all politicians who have talked about getting disabled people back to work because when it comes down to it they are talking medical model, there so called help is aimed at making the individual more employable centreing the fault, the mismatch in the individuals medical condition not societies social attitude towards it.

    What the economic situation of today is doing is recreating the lumpenproletariat, surplus labour that drives wages and conditions down.

    Given an abundance of cheaper labour, with disability being perceived as a cost to the system, you figure out how the market works?

    It's ever so funny now isn't it, Gordon Brown readopting clause 4 and nationalising the commanding heights of the economy :)

    By Blogger laurentius rex, at 4:26 PM  

  • i don't like what obama is suggesting in this letter at all. in the first part of the letter, he mentions that we need to put everyone to work (which in itself is a good idea), but for the government to mandate that everyone works encroaches on the choice to work or not work (most people do want to work). that idea sounds too similar to marxism and the such, and in those types of government, disabled people are looked at as burdens.

    later, he talks about how we should have a certain number of disabled people in the work place. i don't want another affirmative action type program in america where disabled people are given the job just to meet a quota instead of giving the job to the best qualified. many people look at many blacks as lazy partially due to programs such as affirmative action. disabled people are valued in the workplace, but i don't want the government to tell employers that they have to hire so many and by extent, be seen in the general population worse off than we were before.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:23 PM  

  • EVERY SINGLE GOVERNMENT AGENCY that I have contacted to get a job, only wants me to work for less that minimum wage in telemarketing and sales, which I'm UNABLE to do, since I have aphasia.
    And all of the gadgets, that the government is pushing, do not help, even if I could afford this.
    They are harming me by requiring me to do worthless "training", "schools", "research", traveling. All of these expenses have to come out of my pocket.
    I've been illegal fired from my job, because I have a "disability". I was illegal forced to go to a state doctor, in order for my employer to fire me. There is NO ONE to uphold the law. Ya, I could get SSDI (still not enough money to survive on), now that they have taken my retirement and my life savings, but the price is my HOME.
    These "experts" that Obama and his predecessors have pushed onto people with disabilities, is to starve us and make us homeless. By the statistics, this has caused more and more foreclosures. If you can read the newspaper, this is harming EVERYONE.
    What is Obama doing? He's making yet ANOTHER wasteful, useless accountability agency. (Well, I guess he has to spend to money that he's printing. Hello Zimbabwe. And who is harmed by inflation? The elder, disabled, young, and the taxpayer. Who is profiting from inflation? The rich, and mostly the government.)
    And, Lindsay, as far I can tell, the government disability policy enabled the government to discriminate. This is as old as the hills. But, yes, Clinton and ESPECIALLY Bush have done a lot of harm (i.e. FDA preemption, in-the-dark legislation, which makes it impossible to sue from harm done by the medical industry).
    Can't we, please, get some intelligence into the government!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:48 PM  

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