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The DOL Newsletter - July 29, 2010

20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

To kick off the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Assistant Secretary for the Office of Disability Employment Policy Kathy Martinez participated in the panel discussion, “Looking Ahead”. Monday’s event, hosted by Senator Tom Harkin, highlighted the recent successes of the ADA, as well as upcoming initiatives to achieve its promise. “I am particularly honored to be in the company of the leaders who, 20 years ago, had the foresight and determination to introduce and pass this legislation. They might not have realized it at the time, but they were changing the world, not just for people with disabilities, but for us all,” said Martinez as she reflected on how far we have come in the last twenty years.

Following the panel discussion, Martinez joined Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Congressman Jim Langevin for a reception at the Statutory Hall of the Capitol. Congressman Langevin, the first quadriplegic to serve in Congress, presided over the House and marked the first time a Member in a wheelchair has ever served that role. Pelosi stated in her remarks, “The ADA has stood as a shining example of progress for the world to follow. It has made America more accessible- and all Americans are better off.”

Later, Assistant Secretary Martinez delivered remarks at the National Summit on Disability Policy on the link between financial security and employment. She noted that improvements in disability employment initiatives, workforce systems, and technology are crucial to move forward in advancing employment in the disability community.

The ADA 20th Anniversary concluded with an evening celebration at the White House where Deputy Secretary of Labor Seth Harris joined President Obama for the signing of an Executive Order on Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities.