FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, June 19th 1. President's Remarks 2. Press Release from Department of Education 3. Executive Order 1. REMARKS http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/06/20010619-1.html THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for your hospitality and your leadership. Senator Jeffords, Congressmen Green, Horn and Langevin, thank you all for coming. It's good to see you all. Four members of the United States Congress have had a piece, a hand in the strategy that I'm about to talk about, and I thank them for their leadership. Dinah, thank you very much. It's always a joy to be around somebody who loves what she's doing. An enthusiastic soul, and someone who is making people's lives better. And I really appreciate you having me here. I want to thank David Shu for his work, and I want to thank Rhett Dawson as well, who is the President of the Information Technology and Industry Council. My fellow Americans, when the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed in 1990, our nation made a promise we will no longer underestimate the abilities of Americans with disabilities. We will treat Americans with disabilities as people to be respected, rather than problems to be confronted. Our nation has made progress in both attitude and law. Navigating through buildings and buses is far easier than it was just a decade ago. Now, the growth of new technologies creates new hopes and new obstacles. The Internet brings a world of information into a computer screen, which has enriched the lives of many with disabilities. Yet, technology creates challenges of its own. The brilliant graphics that add life to many web pages can make it difficult for a visually impaired person to get the information he or she needs from a web site. Video technology is turning many computers into television sets. Yet, without closed captioning, many see a picture and no words. And complex keyboard commands make it difficult for a person with impaired motor skills to tap a computer's full potential. As a result, computer usage and Internet access for people with disabilities is half that of people without disabilities. Researchers here at the Department of Defense and at other agencies throughout the federal government and in the private sector are developing solutions to these problems. I have just had the opportunity to tour the department's assistive technology center, and I saw technologies that are helping people with disabilities enjoy the full range of opportunities made possible by the technology boom. Software allows hearing impaired people to communicate with their co-workers by computer. Screen reading technology makes it possible for the visually impaired to access information on a monitor. And voice recognition software unlocks new computing possibilities for people with impaired dexterity. The technologies on display here have helped more than 20,000 Defense Department employees enjoy greater access to communications and computing equipment. And they will help countless individuals in the public and private sectors become fully integrated into the workplace. I'm committed to bringing that technology to users as quickly as possible. And I'm committed to ensuring that government web sites become compatible with this evolving technology. And that is why I'm pleased to announce that when Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, offered by Jim Jeffords, becomes effective for all federal agencies next Monday, there will be more opportunities for people of all abilities to access government information. Section 508 requires federal agencies to make sure that the electronic and information technology they use is accessible for people with disabilities. Increasingly, Americans use information technology to interact with their government. They rely on thousands of government web pages to download forms, learn about federal programs, find out where to turn for government assistance, and communicate with elected officials, such as the President. And because of Section 508, government web sites will be more accessible for millions of Americans who have disabilities. Section 508 will also make the federal government a better employer, as roughly 120,000 federal employees with disabilities will have greater access to the tools they need to better perform their jobs. This is one example of the successful public-private partnerships that are removing barriers to full community participation by Americans with disabilities. I thank the leaders from the technology industry who are with us today for your innovation and your ongoing cooperation. Full implementation of Section 508 is a key element of an agenda I announced a year ago, and began implementing in February. It is called The New Freedom Initiative, and its goal is to prepare -- is to help Americans with disabilities realize their potential and to achieve their dreams. We've asked Congress to increase funding to bring assistive technologies to market more quickly, to help make them more affordable for the people who need them, and to speed research in developing new technologies. We have sought to make it easier for Americans with disabilities to enter the work force by finding new ways to get people to their jobs, relying on new technologies to help people work from their home. We recognize the small businesses and community groups like churches, synagogues, mosques and civic organizations may have trouble finding the resources to fully comply with the ADA. So we've asked Congress to support efforts to help them make their facilities more accessible. And we understand that new policies will mean little if we don't fully enforce the ADA. So my administration is doing just that. While these federal efforts are crucial to guaranteeing full accessibility for Americans with disabilities, we must also help them connect with their local communities. So I've signed an executive order requiring full implementation of the Supreme Court's 1999 Olmstead Decision. (Applause.) Olmstead and the ADA rightly mandate that individuals with disabilities who can receive support and treatment in a community setting should be given a reasonable opportunity to live close to their families and friends when appropriate. My executive order directs key federal agencies, like the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Justice and the Social Security Administration to work with states to implement the Olmstead decision and the ADA. It directs those agencies to explore how we can increase community-based services for people with disabilities. And it directs Attorney General Ashcroft and Secretary Thompson to fully enforce Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and ensure that no one is unjustly institutionalized. (Applause.) Secretary Thompson has also made seed money available to help every state develop a plan for implementing Omlstead. The Olmstead Executive Order will increase freedom for people with disabilities. It is compassionate. It is needed. And it is now the federal official policy of my administration. Americans must have the opportunity to live independently, work productively and participate fully in community life. Many Americans achieve this independence through home ownership; but, too often, the high cost of therapeutic care and assistive equipment and technologies make the goal of home ownership unattainable for people with disabilities. That's why I'm optimistic about a pilot program led through the Congress by Representative Mark Green, and soon to be implemented by Secretary Mel Martinez at HUD, that will allow many people with disabilities to buy their own homes. By making the Section 8 low-income rental assistance program more flexible, the federal government can make home ownership a reality for more Americans. The new Section 8 HUD pilot program, the Olmstead Executive Order, and the full implementation of Section 508 will help eliminate the barriers that many Americans with disabilities face. The proposals I sent to Congress will build on our society's commitment to welcome all Americans as friends and neighbors. When governments, business and individuals work together, to build a welcoming society, Americans of every ability will benefit. Thank you for what you're doing here at the Department of Defense. Thank you for your compassion. And may God bless America. 2. RELEASE CONTACT: Lindsey Kozberg, (202) 401-3026 EDUCATION DEPARTMENT TO ASSIST IN PROVIDING COMMUNITY-BASED ALTERNATIVES FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES President George W. Bush yesterday signed an executive order to provide greater opportunities for people with disabilities to engage fully in community life and in employment. Under the order, the U.S. secretary of education is directed to work cooperatively with the attorney general; the secretaries of health and human services, labor, and housing and urban development; and the commissioner of the Social Security Administration in providing assistance to states and communities in expanding community-based alternatives for persons with disabilities. Specifically, the order is intended to help states to comply with the terms of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Olmstead v. L.C. [527 U.S. 581 (1999)]. According to the order, "the Supreme Court construed Title II of the ADA [Americans With Disabilities Act] to require states to place qualified individuals with mental disabilities in community settings, rather than in institutions, whenever treatment professionals determine that such placement is appropriate, the affected persons do not oppose such placement, and the state can reasonably accommodate the placement, taking into account the resources available to the state and the needs of others with disabilities." "This administration is committed to working to provide greater freedom for everyone with a disability," said U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige. "Our department can and will be a resource for Americans with disabilities who are in danger of being left behind. Several efforts are already underway here at the department to fulfill the mission set forth in President Bush's order." Following are existing resources available from the department's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services that may support the transition to community living for individuals with disabilities: A $400,000 award to the Independent Living Research and Utilization Project ( http://www.ilru.org ) at the Texas Institute on Rehabilitation Research to provide technical assistance to states and communities. Through regional training sessions, a web site and a telephone hotline, ILRU will educate community and state leaders about ways to help people with disabilities make the transition from institutions to community living. Grants this year in the amount of $6.2 million to support Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers which will also coordinate work with the ILRU. The $100 million Independent Living Programs and the $2.3 billion Vocational Rehabilitation Program. Paige said that under the terms of the order, the Education Department will review its policies, programs, statues and regulations to determine whether any need to be revised or modified to help with the development of community-based alternatives to support people with disabilities. "This executive order offers important opportunities for people with disabilities," Paige said, "and a challenge that we embrace enthusiastically." 3. EXECUTIVE ORDER COMMUNITY-BASED ALTERNATIVES FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to place qualified individuals with disabilities in community settings whenever appropriate, it is hereby ordered as follows: Section 1. Policy. This order is issued consistent with the following findings and principles: (a) The United States is committed to community-based alternatives for individuals with disabilities and recognizes that such services advance the best interests of Americans. (b) The United States seeks to ensure that America's community-based programs effectively foster independence and participation in the community for Americans with disabilities. (c) Unjustified isolation or segregation of qualified individuals with disabilities through institutionalization is a form of disability-based discrimination prohibited by Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et. seq. States must avoid disability-based discrimination unless doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity provided by the State. (d) In Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999) (the "Olmstead decision"), the Supreme Court construed Title II of the ADA to require States to place qualified individuals with mental disabilities in community settings, rather than in institutions, whenever treatment professionals determine that such placement is appropriate, the affected persons do not oppose such placement, and the State can reasonably accommodate the placement, taking into account the resources available to the State and the needs of others with disabilities. (e) The Federal Government must assist States and localities to implement swiftly the Olmstead decision, so as to help ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to live close to their families and friends, to live more independently, to engage in productive employment, and to participate in community life. Sec. 2. Swift Implementation of the Olmstead Decision: Agency Responsibilities. (a) The Attorney General, the Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Education, Labor, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration shall work cooperatively to ensure that the Olmstead decision is implemented in a timely manner. Specifically, the designated agencies should work with States to help them assess their compliance with the Olmstead decision and the ADA in providing services to qualified individuals with disabilities in community-based settings, as long as such services are appropriate to the needs of those individuals. These agencies should provide technical guidance and work cooperatively with States to achieve the goals of Title II of the ADA, particularly where States have chosen to develop comprehensive, effectively working plans to provide services to qualified individuals with disabilities in the most integrated settings. These agencies should also ensure that existing Federal resources are used in the most effective manner to support the goals of the ADA. The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall take the lead in coordinating these efforts. (b) The Attorney General, the Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Education, Labor, and Housing and Urban Development, and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration shall evaluate the policies, programs, statutes, and regulations of their respective agencies to determine whether any should be revised or modified to improve the availability of community-based services for qualified individuals with disabilities. The review shall focus on identifying affected populations, improving the flow of information about supports in the community, and removing barriers that impede opportunities for community placement. The review should ensure the involvement of consumers, advocacy organizations, providers, and relevant agency representatives. Each agency head should report to the President, through the Secretary of Health and Human Services, with the results of their evaluation within 120 days. (c) The Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall fully enforce Title II of the ADA, including investigating and resolving complaints filed on behalf of individuals who allege that they have been the victims of unjustified institutionalization. Whenever possible, the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services should work cooperatively with States to resolve these complaints, and should use alternative dispute resolution to bring these complaints to a quick and constructive resolution. (d) The agency actions directed by this order shall be done consistent with this Administration's budget. Sec. 3. Judicial Review. Nothing in this order shall affect any otherwise available judicial review of agency action. This order is intended only to improve the internal management of the Federal Government and does not create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity by a party against the United States, its agencies or instrumentalities, its officers or employees, or any other person. GEORGE W. BUSH THE WHITE HOUSE June 18, 2001
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