October 5, 2015
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION
A quarter century ago, our country took a major step toward fulfilling the fundamental American promises of equal access, equal opportunity, and equal respect for all when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was made the law of the land. While we have continued to make advancements that help uphold this basic belief, we must address the injustices that remain. During National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we celebrate the ways individuals with disabilities strengthen our workforce, our communities, and our country, and we recommit to cultivating an America where all people are able to build vibrant futures for themselves and for their families.
Americans with disabilities make up almost one-fifth of our population, but are unemployed at a rate that is twice that of people without disabilities; and for women and minorities with disabilities, the rates are even higher. Despite all they contribute to our society, people with disabilities still face discrimination by employers, limited access to skills training, and, too often, unfairly low expectations. As a Nation, we must continue to promote inclusion in the workplace and to tear down the barriers that remain — in hearts, in minds, and in policies — to the security and prosperity that stable jobs provide and that all our people deserve. And we must actively foster a culture in which individuals are supported and accepted for who they are and in which it is okay to disclose one’s disability without fear of discrimination.
My Administration is working to make sure our country does not let the incredible talents of Americans with disabilities go to waste. We are working to strengthen protections against disability-based discrimination in the workplace and to expand employment possibilities for people with disabilities — and the Federal Government is leading by example. I have taken action to require agencies and Federal contractors to hire more people with disabilities — and thanks to these efforts, more Americans with disabilities are in Federal service than at any point in the last three decades.
I will continue fighting to widen pathways to opportunity for individuals with disabilities and supporting employers in their efforts to increase disability inclusion. The White House hosted a Summit on Disability and Employment earlier this year to provide businesses, philanthropies, and advocates with information on Federal resources for hiring disabled individuals. Last year, I was proud to sign the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which encourages greater coordination across Federal, State, and local programs to expand access to high-quality workforce, education, and rehabilitation services. WIOA also helps youth with disabilities to receive extensive pre-employment transition services so they can find positions alongside people without disabilities and get paid above minimum wage. Additionally, last year I signed the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which allows eligible people with disabilities to establish tax-free savings accounts.