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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

ODEP News Release: [07/14/2011]
Contact Name: Gloria Della or Bennett Gamble
Phone Number: (202) 693-8666 or x4667
Release Number: 11-1061-NAT

US Labor Department assistant secretary testifies before Senate HELP committee on improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities

WASHINGTON — Kathy Martinez, assistant secretary of labor for the Office of Disability Employment Policy, today testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to discuss the U.S. Department of Labor's public and private partnership initiatives designed to connect people with disabilities and employment opportunities.

"The ultimate goal is to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities," said Martinez. "Disability is an issue that impacts all of us. As we get older, we will probably all acquire a disability or live with someone who does. Technology now allows us to participate in the workforce, and it can be the great equalizer."

Martinez told the committee that the department is taking concrete steps to increase employment outcomes in the private and public sectors. An example is the Add Us In Initiative, which aims to increase the ability of small and minority businesses to include people with disabilities in their workforces. She also discussed the agency's efforts to promote emerging technology for workers with disabilities, improve education and job training for unemployed youth and adults with disabilities, and provide assistance to human resource professionals at federal agencies to develop recruitment and hiring strategies as well as training programs.

In concluding her testimony, Martinez described the success story of an individual once considered by many to be unemployable but who now has his own profitable business that hires others. "Improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities is a significant and complex undertaking, but one that holds great potential to improve the lives of many and strengthen our economy," she said.

Martinez's testimony is available at http://www.dol.gov/_sec/media/congress/20110714_Martinez.htm.