PCPID Quarterly Meeting: June 25–27, 2008
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
Chairman Rhatigan welcomed the Committee members to the final day of the PCPID quarterly meeting (held at the Department of Labor) and introduced speaker Neil Romano, Assistant Secretary, US Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).
Mr. Romano began by expressing his pleasure in addressing the Committee and indicated his commitment to partnering with the Committee to provide the necessary resources to continue its work. He stressed the impact that his work with the Committee has had on his life.
Mr. Romano introduced the shortened version of his film, America’s Strength, which was then viewed by the Committee. Mr. Romano stressed that the stories highlighted in the film did not represent a magic formula and that many people with intellectual disabilities can have and maintain a job.
Mr. Romano addressed the timeline for the release of the full version of the film and promised a copy to each member of the Committee. Chairman Rhatigan asked Mr. Romano how he would like to proceed with his offer of financial support for the Committee’s activities and Mr. Romano indicated that requests could be made through Chairman Rhatigan or Ms. Atwater. He also indicated his desire to continue to hear from the members of the Committee. Ms. Atwater informed the Committee that in order for the two agencies to work together a formal document must be developed in accordance with Federal guidelines.
Chairman Rhatigan thanked Mr. Romano for his remarks and his hospitality in hosting the Committee’s meeting at ODEP.
Chairman Rhatigan introduced Jim Troxell, Network Developer, Employment Support Institute, Virginia Commonwealth University.
Mr. Troxell began with a brief description of the Employment Support Institute. He noted that many people do not understand the programs and policies relating to
benefits and incentive programs and that the Employment Support Institute’s focus is on developing technology applications to help explain those policies. He noted that there is currently a focus on informed choice and that the goal of the Institute is to help people make decisions and be informed about the choices available to them.
Mr. Troxell discussed some of the challenges when trying to navigate the benefits and incentives system and noted that many people feel overwhelmed when trying to navigate the system, or find people who can provide specific, knowledgeable advice. He discussed the phenomenon of learned helplessness due to assistance and systems barriers and noted that complexities exist in the form of cross benefit interactions that many people are not aware of, but that potentially affect their benefits across various programs.
Mr. Troxell stated that many incentive programs provide powerful opportunities to people wishing to take steps toward greater income opportunities and independence, but that people don’t understand the programs or how to apply for them. He noted that the combination of the above factors leaves people discouraged and fearful of making changes to the status quo resulting in unemployment and underemployment of people with disabilities.
Mr. Troxell stated that the Institute has focused its efforts on creating tools to provide decision support systems that show people that they can take actions confidently and take a risk that is, in fact, an opportunity.
Mr. Troxell discussed the components and functions of the decision support system and stressed that it is a vehicle for helping people understand their current situation by providing specific information and resolving the ambiguities of benefits and incentives policies.
Mr. Troxell then conducted a demonstration of the WorkWORLD software, highlighting its comprehensive help and information system. He noted that the system delivers results for major Federal benefits programs, and is customized to include several state systems as well. He further noted that the system is written in clear, understandable language and that the program is available on the web, free of charge.
Mr. Troxell answered questions from the Committee members. Chairman Rhatigan stated that his motivation for inviting Mr. Troxell to present to the Committee was so that the program can be used by the Committee members and shared with individuals and advocates in their respective states.
Mr. Troxell concluded his demonstration and Chairman Rhatigan thanked him for his presentation.
Mr. Hollin recommended that the Committee establish the George N. Bouthilet Award to be presented annually to the citizen who has, through his or her company, done outstanding work to employ people with disabilities. He recommended that the nominations be made by the citizen members of the Committee, and the selection made by the full Committee. The Committee voted approval of the recommendation.
Mr. Edwards noted that Mr. Bouthilet was also a pioneer in the field for people with disabilities in the criminal justice system, and recommended that the Committee establish an award for someone in the criminal justice system working with children with disabilities. He noted that the Committee could work in tandem with the Justice Department. The Committee voted approval of the recommendation.
Chairman Rhatigan and Ms. Atwater presented to the Committee the dates of September 8-11 for the next quarterly meeting and Ms. Roach informed the Committee that they would be receiving information on employment that had been gathered by the previous Committee.
Ms. Dennis stated that at previous quarterly meetings, invited speakers have not always been people-first in their language and have used the inappropriate term, mental retardation (outside of an historical context). Ms. Dennis recommended that the PCPID staff send out a letter to future speakers outlining the mission and focus of PCPID and request that they be people-first in their language.
Chairman Rhatigan stated that members of the Committee will be getting a list and ranking of the ornaments previously developed at the quarterly meeting and that subgroups would be formed. He again outlined the protocol for communication with the PCPID staff and noted that he is always available via phone or email. He also asked that the Committee members refrain from communicating with Mr. Romano on issues relating to his offer of financial assistance to the Committee until the PCPID staff prepares the necessary memorandum of understanding.
The Committee then adjourned.