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“I want future generations to know that we are a people who see our differences as a great gift, that we are a people who value the dignity and worth of every citizen – man and woman, young and old, black and white, Latino and Asian, immigrant and Native American, gay and straight, Americans with mental illness or physical disability.”

President Barack Obama, January 20, 2015

In recent decades, the nation’s and world’s economies have experienced massive and continuing changes. Technological innovation, globalization, the emergence of a knowledge economy and similar trends have improved the quality and standard of living for millions of people and offer the potential to do the same for millions more.

Yet, for our nation to prosper in the 21st century global economy, the American Dream must be accessible to all those who work hard to achieve it. As our nation rebuilds its economy and middle class, we must seek out and seize opportunities to enable people with disabilities to gain and sustain good jobs and careers that can lead to better self-supporting futures.

Passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has enabled more people with disabilities to join the workforce than ever before. Today, young people with disabilities expect to join the workforce and to be financially independent.1 Unfortunately, the vast majority of working age adults with disabilities still face structural and attitudinal barriers that block their access to steady employment and economic security.2 In order to fulfill the promise of the ADA – equal employment opportunity and full inclusion – we need to create new curb cuts and pathways for people with disabilities.

 

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