PCPID Quarterly Meeting: September 9–10, 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
September 9, 2008
Executive Director Sally Atwater opened the meeting by thanking everyone for a wonderful forum on the day before, and by recognizing the PCPID staff. She then turned the time over to Chairman Steve Rhatigan.
Chairman Rhatigan also thanked the PCPID staff and then thanked Assistant Secretary Neil Romano and his staff for the forum held on the previous day. Chairman Rhatigan called for the approval of the minutes from the previous meeting and the motion passed.
Chairman Rhatigan announced that the Committee would have the honor later that morning to meet with the President Bush in the Oval Office. He thanked Tom Reilly for his work in making the trip possible, and he thanked Dr. Gianninni for her role in securing transportation to the White House.
Chairman Rhatigan then introduced the Committee’s newest member, Dr. Sambhu Banik and turned the time over to Acting Assistant Secretary Dan Schneider to swear in Dr. Banik.
Before administering the oath, Acting Assistant Secretary Schneider briefly discussed the importance of the Committee’s work. He noted that the active participation of so many senior representatives from the various agencies on the Committee demonstrates the importance of the Committee and its charge.
Acting Assistant Secretary Schneider administered the oath to Dr. Banik.
Chairman Rhatigan turned the time over to Linda Starnes to introduce Joyce Bender, CEO of Bender and Associates.
Ms. Bender began by expressing her gratitude to Committee member Tom Reilly, and Mary Brougher, COO of Bender and Associates. She also expressed her pleasure at being able to address Assistant Secretary Neil Romano.
Ms. Bender noted the honor and opportunity of the Committee’s coming trip to the White House and urged the Committee to speak about people with intellectual disabilities and employment.
Ms. Bender discussed the importance of competitive employment for people with intellectual disabilities. She related her own story of how through the discovery of her own disability, she became aware of the problem of unemployment facing people with disabilities. She discussed the stigma associated with disabilities and the potential for feelings of shame and the bullying that are often associated with disability.
Ms. Bender noted that the number one disability of our soldiers returning from Iraq is traumatic brain injury—often followed by epilepsy.
Ms. Bender related examples of successful training programs and schools that prepare people with disabilities for work, including the Institute of Advanced Technology in Pittsburgh, PA, but noted that even after a person has the necessary training, finding competitive employment can present a challenge. Ms. Bender related that this challenge inspired her to start her own company to find competitive employment for people with disabilities. She then outlined her approach for finding placements and demonstrating the value of a workforce that includes people with disabilities. She noted the company’s successful placement rate and the vast spectrum of private and public organizations the company has worked with, including the National Security Agency.
Ms. Bender related the response she received when she decided to take on people with intellectual disabilities as clients, noting that most people thought the idea crazy because they did not believe that people with intellectual disabilities were capable of bringing value to their employers and thus would not be hired. She noted the similarities between racism and prejudice against people with disabilities.
Ms. Bender stressed that people with disabilities want to work and want the dignity and respect that comes with participating in the work force. She noted the need to abolish pity for people with disabilities and told of instances when she faced people within the disability service community that had little or no expectations of success for their clients’ potential in the workforce. She stressed the need to battle such low expectations and demonstrate the value that people with disabilities can provide to their employers.
Ms. Bender related the difference between self-esteem and self-efficacy (the belief that you are able to do a job). She noted the importance of work in achieving the American Dream.
Ms. Bender discussed the training programs provided by her companies designed to provide the necessary social and life skills to prepare people with disabilities for the workforce (appropriate dress, behavior, punctuality etc.).
Ms. Bender urged the Committee to fight back against prejudices and low expectations, and to approach corporations about their hiring practices related to people with disabilities. She stressed the importance of internships, training and, where appropriate, job coaching.
Ms. Bender closed by urging the Committee to work for a paradigm shift that will change the way people look at people with intellectual disabilities. She then took questions from the audience regarding transportation and reasonable accommodations.
Chairman Rhatigan thanked Ms. Bender for her remarks and noted that the vans had arrived to take the Committee to the White House.
The Committee recessed.