PCPID Quarterly Meeting: June 16–17, 2011
President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities
- The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID)
- Announcements, Meeting Announcements, Publication (Documents and Resources), Meeting Minutes
- Meeting Minutes, Meeting Announcement
Overview of PCPID Alignment within HHS, Administration Agenda on Disability, and Wrap-up Commissioner Sharon Lewis
Commissioner Lewis presented an overview of the PCPID alignment within HHS and the Administration agenda on disability. She started her remarks encouraging members to feel free to call her and Laverdia anytime that they have a question, and thanking the PCPID staff for pulling this meeting together on a very short timetable.
Commissioner Lewis stated that the primary focus of this Administration’s activities related to people with disabilities falls into five categories. One of the most important priorities that the President Barack Obama set forward for people with disabilities is to increase employment opportunities. The President is committed to expanding access to employment for people with disabilities by ensuring that his Administration hires people with disabilities first and foremost. For example, seventy-five percent of the ADD hires have been individuals with significant disabilities. Commissioner Lewis note that Laverdia Roach has been the DHHS-ACF champion, leading the disability hiring initiative and working, collaboratively, with other leaders to bring Project SEARCH to the Department. Project SEARCH is an internship program for students with IDD in their final years of post-secondary transition, to ensure that those students have opportunities to participate in on-the-job work.
President Obama has issued an Executive Order that makes the Federal Government a model employer for person with disabilities. The Department of Labor’s “Out is In” initiative identifies specific strategies to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities within small businesses owned and operated by minorities. Commissioner Lewis stated that Joyce Bender from Bender Consulting has been working with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to ensure that people with disabilities are employed in the Federal Government. Additionally, starting last year, the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, for the first time began reporting employment of people with disabilities.
Commissioner Lewis expressed that President Obama has also made a commitment to expand educational opportunities for all people, including people with disabilities. The President is working hard on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, to ensure increase support for the inclusion and improved outcomes of students with disabilities. The President is also working hard to ensure that teachers are prepared to meet the needs of diverse learners and let assessments more appropriately measure the performance of students with disabilities. He supports expended funding and increased enforcement for programs like the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that ensures all students with disabilities have access and tools to succeed.
The third part of the Administration’s agenda is support of the development and use of accessible technology. The President is committed to innovation and access to technology and supports the passage of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. This is related to everything from making next generation emergency services accessible to people with disabilities, looking at television and the internet programming, and expanding access to close captioning and video description.
Commissioner Lewis added that the Comprehensive Health Care Reform has been on top of the President’s Disability Agenda. As Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said at one of the ADD events, “when President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law last year, we not only achieved the healthcare goal that many had been seeking for years, but we helped fulfill the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act 20 years after it was passed.” Sharon noted that the Affordable Care Act breaks down the barrier and ensures that all individuals have access to healthcare by ending discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and caps on life-time benefits, starting in 2014, barring insurance companies from discrimination based on medical history or genetic information.
The Community Living Assistance Services and Support Program, the “CLASS Program,” is a self-funded and voluntary long-term supports and services choice that would help people with disabilities remain at home and work. The establishment of the Community First Choice Option expands access to community-based attendant service and supports. Also, the establishment of standards for medical diagnostic equipment enables people with disabilities to have access to preventative care.
The fifth priority established by the President Obama revolves around the protection of civil rights and promotion of access to community living. The President has made a firm commitment to do more in terms of the enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). People who are familiar with the collaborative work of Tom Perez, Sam Baganstaus, and the Department of Justice have seen evidence of that work.
Commissioner Lewis mentioned that the alignment of PCPID and ADD has been an important effort to work within the vision that the President and the Secretary have laid out as it relates to the Community Living Initiative. She stated that the purpose of Developmental Disabilities Act is “to assure that individuals with developmental disabilities and their families participate in the design of and have access to needed community services, individualized supports, and other forms of assistance that promote self-determination , independence productivity, and integration and inclusion in all facets of community live.” The Commissioner observed that this is consistent with the Committee’s charge, through the Executive Order, that directs the Committee to “promote the full participation of people with intellectual disabilities in their communities.” The bottom-line is that the message has been clear from individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their family members; they want the opportunity to live in the community.
Commissioner Lewis acknowledged the following five goals:
- Ensuring the rights of individuals with developmental disabilities are protected and preventing the abuse, neglect, and exploitation of such individuals
- Empowering individuals with developmental disabilities and their families to be able to easily access home- and community-based services and supports that are self-directed and ensure opportunity for full community participation
- Promoting employment first, as a key strategy for individuals with developmental disabilities to be contributing, productive, integrated members of society
- Supporting the advocacy efforts of individuals with developmental disabilities throughout the developmental disabilities network
- Establishing and maintaining the effective and responsive management of responsibilities under the DD Act
The Commissioner emphasized that the priority of the Committee will be getting the Annual Report to the President completed over the course of the next six months. She pointed out that the structure and the content of the report needs to be driven by all the Committee members. In response to the question, “who will pay for the report,” Commissioner Lewis responded, “It depends on how you want to define paying for the report. We have a limited budget for the operations of the Committee of about $43,000 for the year, that includes all of your travel and everything related to operating the committee outside of staff time.”
Mid-afternoon of Day One, new Committee appointee, Liz Weintraub, arrived for the meeting and was sworn-in by Commissioner Lewis.