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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 19, 2001
President Bush Highlights Commitment to Americans with Disabilities
- The President signed an Executive Order on Monday,
June 18, 2001, promoting community-based alternatives -- rather
than institutions -- for individuals with disabilities. This
Executive Order directs key federal agencies to work closely with
states to ensure full compliance with the Supreme Court's ruling
in the Olmstead case and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- The President committed the Federal government to
a leadership role in providing greater access for Americans with
disabilities. President Bush visited the Pentagon's
Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program Technology Evaluation
Center (CAPTEC), which evaluates and demonstrates assistive technology
for people with disabilities at the Department of Defense and
other federal agencies.
- The President announced that new rules implementing
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments will take effect
on June 25. The rules will require the federal government
to purchase electronic and information technology greatly expanding
the availability of assistive technology to Americans with disabilities.
- The President announced that the Department of Housing
and Urban Development is in the process of issuing regulations
to implement the HUD Section 8 Disability Homeownership Initiative,
created by Congress last year. The 3-year pilot program
will allow people with disabilities to use Section 8 assistance
toward down payment and closing costs of purchasing a home, rather
than limiting these funds to rent payments.
Background on the President's Action
- Olmstead Executive Order: On June 22, 1999,
the Supreme Court held in its landmark Olmstead decision that
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires
states, whenever possible, to place qualified individuals with
mental disabilities in community settings rather than in institutions. The
Supreme Court called on the states to develop "comprehensive,
effectively working plans" to provide services to individuals
with disabilities in the most integrated settings possible.
- The Executive Order refers to all American's with
disabilities, going beyond the Supreme Court's ruling Olmstead,
which limited the holding in its decision to individuals with
- The Executive Order directs key federal agencies
to assist states as they work to fully comply with the Olmstead
decision and the ADA. It directs HHS to coordinate
an effort by all federal agencies to evaluate their own policies,
programs and regulations to ensure that community-based services
for people with disabilities are available. Finally, it directs
the Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services
to fully enforce Title II of the ADA, including alternative dispute
resolution mechanisms to help resolve complaints filed by those
who allege they are victims of unjustified institutionalization.
- Section 508: Section 508 of the Rehabilitation
Act Amendments of 1998 requires that federal agencies ensure that
disabled employees and members of the public have access to information,
computers and networks comparable to access enjoyed by people
without disabilities. The Bush Administration is working
closely with the high-tech industry and the disability rights
community to implement Section 508 and is encouraging the private
sector to develop products and technologies accessible to people
- HUD Section 8 Disability Homeownership Initiative:
Because the high costs of therapeutic care and assistive equipment
and technologies make the goal of home ownership unattainable
for many Americans with disabilities, the Department of Housing
and Urban Development will be issuing regulations to implement
a 3-year pilot program passed by Congress that will allow many
people with disabilities to buy their own homes. This
initiative will make the current Section 8 low-income rental assistance
program more flexible for persons with disabilities, allowing
Section 8 funds to be used for mortgage payments, and making home
ownership a reality for more Americans.
The New Freedom Initiative -- Breaking Down Barriers to Access
- Earlier this year, President Bush unveiled his New
Freedom Initiative -- a comprehensive set of proposals to fulfill
America's promise to the 54 million Americans with disabilities.
- The New Freedom Initiative will help Americans with
disabilities increase access to innovative new technologies that
help them participate fully in society, expand their educational
opportunities, better integrate them into the workforce, and promote
their full access to community life.
The President's Budget and the New Freedom Initiative
- The President's budget plan backs up the New Freedom
Initiative with more than $8.6 billion in funding in FY 2002 alone.
- Among the key proposals receiving funding in the
- $5 million to help small businesses comply with
the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and to encourage
small businesses to hire Americans with disabilities.
- $20 million for Rehabilitative Engineering Research
Centers, which conduct some of the nation's most innovative
assistive technology research, and help bring assistive technologies
- $20 million for the Access to Telework Fund, to
provide federal matching funds to states to guarantee low-interest
loans for individuals with disabilities to purchase computers
and other equipment necessary to telework from home.
- $20 million in federal matching funds to help
organizations that are currently exempt from the ADA, such as
churches, mosques, synagogues, and civic organizations, make
their facilities accessible to individuals with disabilities.
- $40 million in federal matching funds to states
to finance low-interest loans to help people with disabilities
to purchase needed assistive technologies.
- $45 million to fund 10 new pilot programs to develop
innovative transportation programs to serve people with disabilities.
- $100 million in competitive matching grants to
promote access to alternative transportation methods for people
with disabilities through community-based and other local providers.
- $8.4 billion for special education programs, including
$7.3 billion for Part B grants to states, a $1 billion increase. This
is the largest special education funding increase ever proposed
by a President in his budget, and increases the federal share
of special education costs from 15 percent to 17 percent.
- In addition to the President's New Freedom Initiative,
the President's budget also nearly doubles funding for the newly
created Office of Disability Employment Policy at the Department
of Labor. The Office will facilitate change in policies
and practices that will result in a higher number of individuals
with disabilities employed in the competitive labor market.