PCPID Meeting: September 9–10, 2008
Joyce A. Bender
James M. Boles*
Olegario D. Cantos, VII*
Eric Lee Cole*
Berthy De La Rosa-Aponte*
Carmela Vargas Gonzales*
Sharon Bui Green
Harris N. Hollin*
Stephen B. Hollingshead*
Jo Linda Johnson
Doro Bush Koch
David Michael Mank
Mary Kay Mauren*
Casey Patrick O’Halloran*
Stephanie Preshong Brown*
Thomas J. Reilly*
Steven C. Rhatigan*
Laverdia T. Roach
Linda Hampton Starnes*
Dallas “Rob” Sweezy*
Eric Todd Treat*
Mary Ellen Zeppuhar*
Proceedings of September 9, 2008
Executive Director Sally Atwater opened the meeting by thanking everyone for a wonderful forum on the day before, and by recognizing the PCPID staff. She then turned the time over to Chairman Steve Rhatigan.
Chairman Rhatigan also thanked the PCPID staff and then thanked Assistant Secretary Neil Romano and his staff for the forum held on the previous day. Chairman Rhatigan called for the approval of the minutes from the previous meeting and the motion passed.
Chairman Rhatigan announced that the Committee would have the honor later that morning to meet with the President Bush in the Oval Office. He thanked Tom Reilly for his work in making the trip possible, and he thanked Dr. Gianninni for her role in securing transportation to the White House.
Chairman Rhatigan then introduced the Committee’s newest member, Dr. Sambhu Banik and turned the time over to Acting Assistant Secretary Dan Schneider to swear in Dr. Banik.
Before administering the oath, Acting Assistant Secretary Schneider briefly discussed the importance of the Committee’s work. He noted that the active participation of so many senior representatives from the various agencies on the Committee demonstrates the importance of the Committee and its charge.
Acting Assistant Secretary Schneider administered the oath to Dr. Banik.
Chairman Rhatigan turned the time over to Linda Starnes to introduce Joyce Bender, CEO of Bender and Associates.
Ms. Bender began by expressing her gratitude to Committee member Tom Reilly, and Mary Brougher, COO of Bender and Associates. She also expressed her pleasure at being able to address Assistant Secretary Neil Romano.
Ms. Bender noted the honor and opportunity of the Committee’s coming trip to the White House and urged the Committee to speak about people with intellectual disabilities and employment.
Ms. Bender discussed the importance of competitive employment for people with intellectual disabilities. She related her own story of how through the discovery of her own disability, she became aware of the problem of unemployment facing people with disabilities. She discussed the stigma associated with disabilities and the potential for feelings of shame and the bullying that are often associated with disability.
Ms. Bender noted that the number one disability of our soldiers returning from Iraq is traumatic brain injury—often followed by epilepsy.
Ms. Bender related examples of successful training programs and schools that prepare people with disabilities for work, including the Institute of Advanced Technology in Pittsburgh, PA, but noted that even after a person has the necessary training, finding competitive employment can present a challenge. Ms. Bender related that this challenge inspired her to start her own company to find competitive employment for people with disabilities. She then outlined her approach for finding placements and demonstrating the value of a workforce that includes people with disabilities. She noted the company’s successful placement rate and the vast spectrum of private and public organizations the company has worked with, including the National Security Agency.
Ms. Bender related the response she received when she decided to take on people with intellectual disabilities as clients, noting that most people thought the idea crazy because they did not believe that people with intellectual disabilities were capable of bringing value to their employers and thus would not be hired. She noted the similarities between racism and prejudice against people with disabilities.
Ms. Bender stressed that people with disabilities want to work and want the dignity and respect that comes with participating in the work force. She noted the need to abolish pity for people with disabilities and told of instances when she faced people within the disability service community that had little or no expectations of success for their clients’ potential in the workforce. She stressed the need to battle such low expectations and demonstrate the value that people with disabilities can provide to their employers.
Ms. Bender related the difference between self-esteem and self-efficacy (the belief that you are able to do a job). She noted the importance of work in achieving the American Dream.
Ms. Bender discussed the training programs provided by her companies designed to provide the necessary social and life skills to prepare people with disabilities for the workforce (appropriate dress, behavior, punctuality etc.).
Ms. Bender urged the Committee to fight back against prejudices and low expectations, and to approach corporations about their hiring practices related to people with disabilities. She stressed the importance of internships, training and, where appropriate, job coaching.
Ms. Bender closed by urging the Committee to work for a paradigm shift that will change the way people look at people with intellectual disabilities. She then took questions from the audience regarding transportation and reasonable accommodations.
Chairman Rhatigan thanked Ms. Bender for her remarks and noted that the vans had arrived to take the Committee to the White House.
The Committee recessed.
Chairman Rhatigan called the meeting back to order and noted again the Committee’s appreciation for Tom Reilly in making the Committee’s visit to the White House possible. Chairman Rhatigan also noted that the following day, Doro Bush Koch and Trisha Koch would be joining the Committee and that Ms. Bush Koch would sign copies of her book, My Father, My President.
Chairman Rhatigan informed the Committee that the Office on Government Ethics had provided the Committee with revised slides from their previous presentation to include more specific information on Special Government Employees and the ethics guidelines pertinent to their position.
Chairman Rhatigan urged the Committee to write down everything they remembered of the President’s remarks while they were in the Oval Office and then send them to Laverdia Roach in order to create the forward to the 2009 report.
Chairman Rhatigan introduced Dr. David Mank—writer and editor of the 2009 Report to the President.
Dr. Mank began by discussing his purpose in being there and his commitment to writing a report that reflects the discussion and recommendations of the Committee. He noted his belief that employment is the great freedom for all people, and certainly people with disabilities.
In response to a question, Ms. Roach noted that prior to 2004, all Committee reports were written by a professional writer. She then described the procedures for communicating all suggestions, edits and ideas to Dr. Mank, and noted that the primary content of the report would come from the presentations made at the joint PCPID/Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) forum from the previous day. Ms. Roach also stressed that all of the information previously provided to PCPID for inclusion in the report had been forwarded to Dr. Mank for his consideration. She further stressed the importance of a quick turnaround on each of the drafts of the report in order to stick to the proposed timeline for completion.
Dr. Mank stressed that in the early stages, it is particularly important to pay close attention to the content of the report, as the layout and format will be addressed in later drafts.
Ollie Cantos suggested a method for submitting information to Ms. Roach and Dr. Mank that would make the process easier. He noted the importance of getting the information from the forum out to the Committee members’ respective networks. He urged the Committee members to act as ambassadors for the Committee and to grow their networks—suggesting at least five new contacts per member—and to network within the disability and employment communities as a means of broadcasting the work of the Committee. He urged the Committee to be creative in order to take the Committee’s efforts to a new level of activity and awareness.
Mr. Cantos also stressed the importance of leadership development and using the Committee’s expanded network as a means of disseminating the report (after it has been cleared). He noted the importance of developing public information pieces and looking forward with an eye toward what is next for the Committee. He urged Committee members to maximize the effectiveness of the PCPID staff by identifying needs and providing personal assistance with writing, etc. He also suggested that the Committee write letters of support to organizations holding conferences on issues of importance to the Committee.
In response to a question, Mr. Cantos further detailed his plan for expanding the Committee’s network of allied advocates and potential strategies for increasing awareness of the Committee’s purpose and work, including reaching out to former members of the Committee.
Sharon Green relayed a message from Charlie Weis that he had tentatively reached an agreement with NBC to have a halftime special about his work with the disability community and that a message from PCPID was part of the deal.
Sue Picerno clarified some statements made regarding the PCPID/ODEP forum and the white papers that may result from it. She also noted her support for Mr. Cantos’ plan for increased networking.
Mary Ellen Zeppuhar suggested working with the University Centers for Excellence in each state. Dr. Mank noted that he is a member of the University Centers and that he would be happy to help promote the Committee’s work.
Linda Starnes asked for clarification on the language of the statement of work and invitations that went out to the forum speakers about how their work would be used and disseminated.
Dr. Banik expressed his support for reaching out to former members.
Dr. Giannini suggested that the Committee also look to the American Public Health Association which has a newly established section on disabilities. She noted that the annual meeting is at the end of October.
Will Tienken suggested using the PCPID website and Disabilityinfo.gov as a means of disseminating some of the information learned at the forum, and particularly for posting the employment-related websites shared during the forum.
Chairman Rhatigan asked Harris Hollin to discuss the research portion of the report. Mr. Hollin stated that the goal of the research subcommittee was to apply the latest findings of the research community to the employment effort. He noted that as we learn more regarding how each of the more than 750 genetic conditions known to cause intellectual disabilities affect specific processing skills, we are better able to design training and employment preparation programs tailored to each individual’s needs.
Chairman Rhatigan noted the need to develop a title for the report. Stephanie Preshong Brown suggested that the Committee look for a title in the remarks made by the President in the Oval Office.
Chairman Rhatigan asked Ollie Cantos for any wrap-up notes he may have and Mr. Cantos noted the need to develop action steps. He volunteered to draft an outreach letter to be used for network building. He also suggested that the members write down the names of each organization that they would like to have strengthened relationships with and send it to him by email so that he can compile a master list from which to start growing PCPID’s network.
Chairman Rhatigan then turned the time over to Linda Starnes to introduce Jo Linda Johnson from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Ms. Johnson began by citing some statistics regarding people with disabilities in the Federal workforce, noting that as the number of Federal employees has increased, the number of Federal employees with disabilities has continued to decrease. She stated the EEOC tracks nine targeted disabilities and that less than 1 percent of the total Federal workforce has one of the nine targeted disabilities.
Ms. Johnson reviewed the slides in her presentation that presented the top five and bottom five agencies in the Federal Government that hire people with disabilities. She noted that efforts are currently under way to address the issues at the bottom five agencies and increase the number of people with disabilities working in those agencies.
Ms. Johnson noted that, on average, people with disabilities in the Federal workforce have lower grades and lower pay than the Federal workforce at large. She also noted that even when broken out into sexes, or racial and ethnic origins, people with disabilities still have the lowest rate of pay within the Federal workforce.
Ms. Johnson noted the EEOC has been devising strategies to address the issues previously mentions. She noted that the number one solution is for agencies to make hiring individuals with disabilities a priority. She noted that EEOC requires every agency to set goals for hiring people with disabilities, but not all agencies have. Ms. Johnson stated that another solution is to train Federal hiring managers on their responsibilities under the Rehabilitation Act, and their responsibilities for accommodating people with disabilities in the workplace.
Ms. Johnson stated the benefits of using the Schedule A hiring authority including the ability to fill positions more quickly and without going through the normal competitive process. She noted that she had brought brochures that described the process for using the Schedule A hiring authority and that the brochures were written for the various HR professionals that will need the information.
Ms. Johnson addressed the issue of discovering people with disabilities that are looking for employment and noted in particular the Employer Assistance Network (EARN), the WRP, and the Veterans Employment Training Service—all out of the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the Department of Labor (DOL). She also stated that advocacy and recruitment networks serve as a useful tool in finding potential employees with disabilities.
Ms. Johnson highlighted the CAP program that provides all partner Federal agencies with technology-related accommodations at no cost. She stressed the importance of awareness about the CAP program given that many hiring managers cite the cost of accommodations as a barrier to employing people with disabilities.
Ms. Johnson then took questions from the audience.
In response to a question, Ms. Johnson addressed the issue of finding the selective placement coordinator in each office and noted that agencies are not required to have one, but that OPM maintains a list.
In response to a question, Ms. Johnson noted that the CAP program does not extend to Federal contractors and that she is unaware of how Federal contractors are doing with regards to hiring people with disabilities as those numbers are not collected either by EEOC or the Office of Federal Contract Compliance in DOL. She also noted that while Federal agencies are not prohibited from providing accommodations for contractors, they are not required to either.
In response to a question, Ms. Johnson stated that the targeted disability group that saw the largest decline in hiring was hearing impairment, but that there are no data regarding which targeted disability group has the most difficulty finding Federal employment.
In response to a question, Ms. Johnson explained that she cannot provide specific information on people with intellectual disabilities because EEOC is currently working on the larger problem of reversing the trend of decreasing Federal employees with disabilities and has not yet focused on the individual disability groups. She also noted that regardless of the disability, she feels that the problem is the same: individual agencies and hiring managers are making the decision that they don’t want to hire people with disabilities because of a belief that they are inherently less qualified or too difficult to accommodate.
In response to a question, Ms. Johnson stated the importance of tracking applicant flow data so that agencies can track their progress and improve their efforts to employ more people with disabilities. Dr. Giannini noted that agencies can do a better job at outreach and Ms. Johnson stated that some agencies had already begun improving their outreach efforts. She made particular note of the Department of Treasury.
Ms. Johnson noted that EEOC Commissioner Griffin often speaks at the same events as Joyce Bender and that afterwards, people are excited and interested in working with them, but that it often falls through because they are unable to find a way to work Ms. Bender’s program into their contracting. Ms. Johnson noted that the solutions are out there, they are just not considered or made a priority. She also noted that Federal regional offices generally do a better job than the central offices.
In response to a comment, Ms. Johnson agreed that there are some serious problems with how the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) hires new Federal employees, but noted that they are taking steps to improve the process.
In response to a question, Ms. Johnson noted that OPM had recently made an offer of employment to a new disability policy liaison. She also stated that if someone wanted to apply for a position within an agency, they could first check to see if the HR department has a selective placement coordinator or disability program manager, and then ask them if they know how to use Schedule A.
Chairman Rhatigan thanked Ms. Johnson for her remarks and then called for a 10 minute break.
Upon concluding the break, Chairman Rhatigan called for the Committee to break into subcommittees to discuss the proceedings from the previous day’s forum and report back to the full Committee on the subcommittees’ work.
The Committee then broke into subcommittees, after which they recessed for the remainder of the day.
Proceedings of September 10, 2008
Chairman Rhatigan called the meeting to order and began by discussing the possibility of holding a quarterly meeting in November, 2008.
Chairman Rhatigan called on Berthy De La Rosa-Aponte to discuss the possibility of developing talking points that the Committee members could use when discussing their work with others. Ms. De La Rosa-Aponte noted the process used by the Ticket to Work Panel. Chairman Rhatigan indicated he would get together with PCPID staff to work out the details. Eric Cole stressed the importance of the talking points in getting out the Committee’s message and Chairman Rhatigan appointed Mr. Cole as the head of the effort to develop the talking points.
Chairman Rhatigan addressed some logistics questions regarding the reimbursements for the PCPID/ODEP forum and Ms. Ruzicka indicated that she had been working to secure the answers and would inform the Committee as soon as she was able to make contact with the appropriate parties.
Chairman Rhatigan reminded the Committee members to send in their reflections and memories of their trip to the Oval Office for use in the forward of the 2009 report. He also addressed the absence of National Council on Disability representative Milton Aponte and asked Ms. De La Rosa-Aponte to convey the Committee’s regrets that he was unable to attend.
Chairman Rhatigan returned to the discussion of the talking points and noted that whatever talking points were developed for Coach Weis’ segment on NBC should also be appropriate for use by the whole Committee. He tasked Mr. Cole with coming up with a draft for the Committee to work from. Linda Hampton Starnes reminded the Committee of the importance of consulting the ethics guidelines when developing any messages from the Committee and Dr. Banik reiterated the importance of having any official statements cleared through appropriate channels.
Mary Ellen Zeppuhar mentioned the possibility of recognizing employers that have successfully employed people with intellectual disabilities with a certificate and a press conference. Chairman Rhatigan and Mr. Cole recommended waiting until the initial talking points were developed before getting into any additional suggestions for public statements and recognition.
In response to a question, Ms. Ruzicka noted that any official statement must be cleared through appropriate channels. Mr. Cole asked whether the Committee members could use verbatim language from previously cleared documents as talking points about the Committee and Ms. Ruzicka replied that if they were quoted verbatim, they could be used.
The Committee briefly discussed potential titles for the 2009 report, as well as content for the forward taken from the President’s remarks in the Oval Office. Chairman Rhatigan welcomed Doro Bush Koch and Trisha Koch and turned the time over to Mr. Reilly to introduce them. Mr. Reilly introduced Ms. Bush Koch and Ms. Koch and then asked the Committee members to relate some of their thoughts and feelings about the previous day’s visit to the Oval Office.
The Committee members expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to meet the President and visit the Oval Office. Several Committee members related to Ms. Bush Koch and Ms. Koch the significance of the visit to their individual lives, and the impact that the entire Bush family has had in the disability community.
Mr. Reilly asked Ms. Doro Bush Koch to say a few words to the Committee before they broke for a book signing and photos.
Ms. Bush Koch thanked the Committee for the invitation to address the Committee and expressed her pleasure at the Committee’s opportunity to visit the White House on the previous day. She noted that even though the meeting was not political in nature, she was excited about the significance of Sarah Palin’s candidacy to the disability community and movement. She noted the importance of opening up the conversation and the resulting media attention on the issue of intellectual disabilities.
Ms. Bush Koch discussed the book she and Trisha Koch co-wrote about her father, President George H.W. Bush. She expressed her pleasure at the opportunity to interview over 300 of her father’s friends and colleagues in order to write the book and noted particularly a conversation with Mikhail Gorbachev. She noted that the book highlighted President Bush’s work to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Ms. Trisha Koch related her pleasure in co-writing the book with Ms. Bush Koch and related some personal anecdotes.
Ms. Bush Koch concluded by expressing her appreciation for the Committee and its work.
The Committee then took a short recess.
Chairman Rhatigan called the meeting back to order and began a discussion of the 2009 report. He stressed the importance of responding to the coming drafts within the requested timeline. He then turned the time over to Dr. David Mank.
Dr. Mank began by expressing his belief that something special was happening and that it is an honor to be a part of it. He reiterated that his role in the process is to write a document that reflects the desires of the Committee and is appropriate for Executive action.
Dr. Mank presented the Committee with a suggested outline of the report and recommended that he and the Committee go through line by line. He briefly discussed his suggestions for the report’s format. He also stressed the importance of telling the story of the report up front—that people with intellectual disabilities are capable of working and that the majority of people with intellectual disabilities currently are not working.
Dr. Mank led a discussion of how to craft the report’s message that will highlight the capabilities and contributions of people with intellectual disabilities. The discussion focused on the 60% gap between employment among the general population and people with developmental disabilities. He noted the importance of the voice of self-advocates to dispel the long-held myths regarding the ability of people with intellectual disabilities to contribute to and participate in the workforce.
Dr. Mank suggested including the costs (to the taxbase) of people not working. He also noted the role of employment in self-esteem and feelings of contribution. He stressed the importance of finding a way to ensure that the stakes are very clear.
Dr. Mank stressed the need to think of a lot of new ideas about how to get people with intellectual disabilities jobs. He also noted the need to work into the larger report the work of the subcommittees. He asked for questions or comments from the Committee members who offered suggestions of ideas and topics for the report.
In addition to discussing losses to the tax base, the Committee discussed pilot programs within the Federal Government (SSA) to make employment more plausible for people with intellectual disabilities that fear the effect that employment may have on their benefits.
The Committee discussed ways to demonstrate potential and value. Ms. Roach reminded the Committee of previous reports done by the Committee on the same topics and suggested that the Committee use a similar approach outlined in those reports. Ms. Roach also suggested that it should be stated clearly at the front of the report that the goal should be competitive and qualitative employment.
Ms. Roach noted that the report should address the Committee’s acknowledgment of the fact that while there are many issues important to successful employment, the report cannot address them all, but recognizes their importance. Chairman Rhatigan echoed the sentiment and suggested that companion pieces be developed at a later date for those issues that needed to be excluded from the report. Ms. Roach noted the success of such a strategy in the past.
Chairman Rhatigan called upon Harris Hollin to discuss how the work of the public awareness and research subcommittees can cut across all of the issues addressed in the report. Mr. Hollin announced that the research applications subcommittee has been looking at components that will strengthen the preparation for work of people with intellectual disabilities and that the subcommittee’s suggestion is to work subservient to Ms. Starnes’ subcommittee and, where deemed appropriate by the subcommittees, to integrate their work for inclusion in the 2009 report.
The Committee discussed the potential issues to be included and excluded and to what depth the included issues should be addressed. The Committee also briefly discussed international access and supports such as transportation and job coaching. Dr. Mank noted that all were important issues and, for the ones that were to be included, the question remained of where in the report they should be located.
Mr. Hollin suggested that the Committee not use the language of myths and facts, but to deal only in truths as such language is more positive.
A suggestion was made to place the “meat” of the report up front so that the report’s central thesis is made clear early on in the report. It was also suggested that the report be organized under the umbrella of the New Freedom Initiative. Ms. Roach noted that Secretary Romano at the Department of Labor volunteered the services of ODEP to collect into one document the practices and policies throughout the Federal Government that currently support the message of the 2009 report.
Dr. Mank discussed his impressions of the ODEP forum, the themes that he saw emerge and how he saw those themes fitting into the 2009 report. He discussed the format he believed would best serve the areas of research and public awareness and suggested that those issues be outlined early in the report, followed by success stories and then finished with recommendations. Dr. Mank also noted his belief that the term “readiness” should not be used lest it imply that the issue preventing people with intellectual disabilities from finding gainful employment is that they are unready for the workforce.
A Committee member proposed a potential outline for the report and Ms. Zeppuhar stressed the need for the term “competitive” employment. The Committee then discussed the need to come up with a definition of employment and noted that there may have been one agreed upon at the previous meeting; Ms. Roach promised to supply Dr. Mank with that definition.
Dr. Mank continued to discuss potential topics and formats for the report, noting the perhaps the heart of what the Committee intends to improve through their recommendations includes building experience and promoting employment. He also noted that while disability services tend to be good at starting things, including transition from school to work—post-secondary education, customized employment, etc.—they have not been as successful at fully implementing those ideas that are known to work.
Dr. Mank discussed the importance of presenting a balanced message, including the suggestions from Chairman Rhatigan to include systemic issues that influence decisions to work—such as work incentives, asset development and benefits management.
Dr. Mank then concluded his discussion of his potential outline with the note that he would be listening to the Committee’s discussions throughout the day to determine how he would proceed with completion of the 2009 report.
Chairman Rhatigan suggested the Committee go back to the beginning of the outline and discuss potential titles, and go over each of the sections. He noted that this report should be different from previous reports and that he wanted to hear suggestions from people with various perspectives. He noted the President’s use of the terms “light” and “dark” and invited the Committee members to suggest impactful language to include in the report. Suggestions were made including phrases such as “all men are created equal” and “employment: pursuit of work, pursuit of happiness.” Mr. Carradini and Ms. O’Halloran provided suggested text for inclusion in the report (see attached for complete text). It was suggested that the terms “meaningful” and “integrated” be included in the report. It was also suggested that the terms “achieve” and “dreams” be included together. It was also suggested that the term “contributive” be used in the correct context.
It was suggested that members of the Committee that had children engaged in competitive employment and micro-enterprises provide “blurbs” for the success stories to be included in the report. It was also suggested that the success stories reflect various stages throughout the lifespan. It was noted that implementation is the most difficult part of the equation, but that it is central to solving the problems addressed in the report. Several members discussed the difficulties facing parents of children with intellectual disabilities and highlighting their successes in the success stories section of the report. Mr. Cantos suggested that the success stories be included in a sidebar format.
Dr. Mank noted that while he would do his best to represent all of the thoughts and suggestions of the Committee members, he could not guarantee that all of the suggested language would become part of the report.
The Committee briefly discussed the need for mothers of children with intellectual disabilities to “let go” and allow their children to become integrated into and participate in the community.
Harris Hollin offered a resolution to provide a procedure for choosing a recipient of the George N. Bouthilet Award that would allow the Chair to decide upon a recipient from amongst nominations provided by the Committee members within a given timetable. The Chair would ideally seek unanimous approval of a recipient during a face to face meeting, but in the event that such a process is not possible due to time constraints, the Chair would be empowered to make the decision from the submitted nominations.
The Committee voted to approve the resolution.
Chairman Rhatigan expressed the gratitude of the Committee for Dr. Mank’s time and discussion.
Chairman Rhatigan asked the ex officio members for any agency updates relevant to the Committee.
Mr. Balkus of SSA discussed the cost of living increase and the publication of the new Ticket to Work regulations.
Ron Gordon of Transportation discussed the agency’s efforts to assess its activities to employ people with intellectual disabilities. He also noted that the Agency is currently conducting training sessions for supervisors and managers on how to increase the number of people with disabilities employed in the department.
Ms. Bazilio-Bellgarde of the Corporation for National and Community Service discussed the recently-passed Hart Law and what it means for people with disabilities that work with the Corporation. She also noted that the Corporation would be hosting a conference on disability and service in October.
Ms. Ashby of the Department of Education discussed a grant awarded for a training center that focuses on people with intellectual disabilities and employment. She also noted that they have a center that provides technical assistance to colleges and universities that want to provide programs for people with intellectual disabilities.
Ms. Picerno of the Department of Labor discussed Secretary Romano’s efforts to change the term “reasonable accommodation” to “productivity enhancement.” Ms. Picerno suggested that the new term be incorporated into the report.
Mr. Leahy of the Department of Commerce discussed outreach efforts to people with disabilities for the transition to digital television. He also noted that the census would be adding new measures that include people with disabilities.
Ms. Mauren of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reminded the Committee of the fact sheet provided by EEOC that specifically addresses people with intellectual disabilities and employment.
The Committee then recessed for the members to eat lunch and to work in their respective subcommittees.
The Committee reconvened and Chairman Rhatigan called upon the subcommittee chairs to deliver their reports.
A Committee member discussed the need for additional public awareness of the difficulties facing people with intellectual disabilities seeking employment opportunities. She also noted the importance of including the voice of the employer in the success stories included in the report.
Mr. Tienken discussed the contributions promised and expected from various members for inclusion in the report that include success stories. He noted that SSA and DOT are looking into their programs for current programs that support increasing employment opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. He offered three recommendations for inclusion in the report: 1) have an Office on Disability liaison in the White House; 2) recommend that the next Administration continue the New Freedom Initiative; and 3) lift the limit on earnings so that people with intellectual disabilities are not fearful of losing their benefits as they become more successful in the workplace.
Mr. Hollin discussed the need to use the upcoming TV spot to brand PCPID. The Committee discussed the need for and uses of the talking points being developed by the public awareness subcommittee and the need for using people-first language was stressed. Mr. Hollin addressed the need for the talking points to be cleared through the appropriate channels and Mr. Cole noted that because of the tight time schedule, Coach Weis was looking to have the talking points as soon as possible. Dr. Banik requested that an announcement be sent out to the Committee members regarding the Coach Weis interview as soon as an air date was set.
Chairman Rhatigan asked for any remaining questions or comments for Dr. Mank and ? (pg. 212) reminded the Committee of the President’s discussion of the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office and its many alterations over the years to accommodate the various Presidents’ needs. She noted that this story might be used in the introduction of the report. Mr. Tienken noted that the White House was the very first ADA compliant building and that the metaphor could be expanded to include the desk and the width of the doors to the Roosevelt Room. Mr. Cantos noted further President George H.W. Bush immediately having installed an elevator after learning of a White House employee that required an accommodation.
Chairman Rhatigan discussed the logistics for the November meeting.
Several Committee members expressed their appreciation for the work of the Committee and Sally Atwater congratulated the Committee on their passion and dedication to improving the quality of life for people with intellectual disabilities and their families.
Ms. Ruzicka informed the Committee that she would contact them with the reimbursement information as soon as she was able to get the correct information.
Chairman Rhatigan reminded the Committee of the importance of staying within the timeframe agreed upon for completion of the report and set a deadline of September 19 for promised submissions from Committee members for inclusion in the report.
Chairman Rhatigan adjourned the meeting.
Verbatim Suggested Language
Suggested by Mr. Carradini:
According to our Declaration of Independence, everyone is entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. “Everyone” includes people with disabilities. Great strides have been taken since the Americans with Disabilities Act was strengthened by, among other things, the President’s New Freedom Initiative. More remains to be done. While this should work in addressing all factors related to successful employment, issues such as housing and transportation cannot be fully addressed here. The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities’ mission this year, to focus on employment with the pursuit and execution of personally and socially gainful employment is the basis for the pursuit of happiness.
People with intellectual disabilities have the right to employment that accords with their dignity, capacities and aspirations, just as everyone does. This report will focus on the elements necessary to integrate these people and on the
services and the supports currently available to enable them to participate in our nation’s economic life and become competitively involved.
Suggested by Judy O’Halloran: The realization of equality, the right of employment for people with intellectual disabilities, best practices in the public and private workplace.
- Develop talking points for use by Coach Weis and the entire Committee.
- Follow up on reimbursement forms for the ODEP forum.
- Provide to Ms. Roach all Committee member papers by the deadline of September 19.
- Send in thoughts and reflections on the Committee’s visit with President Bush.
- Submit nominations for the George N. Bouthilet Award.
- Ms. Roach: send to Dr. Mank the definition of employment agreed upon by the Committee in the previous meeting.
- Ms. Picerno: check on the status of the compilation of Federal programs document to be put together by ODEP.
- PCPID staff: send out an announcement regarding the air date for the Coach Weis interview.