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profoundly yours the abledbody blog

I’m watching the healthcare debate on T.V., with President Obama taking a very CEO-roundtable-like style to try to bring together a roomful of lawmakers to agree on a comprehensive $950 billion healthcare bill. Obama sits at the head of a square conference table, flanked by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Lamar Alexander, John McCain and other Republican senators sit to Obama’s left. “We want a discussion, not talking points,” Obama says. The GOP discussion is namely centered on reducing costs through program spending cuts and holding more doctors and hospitals accountable. The Democrats talk about expanding the system to cover all Americans, including low-income families and people with disabilities. Also in the room is Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, who leads the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee and is an ardent supporter of people with disabilities. Harkin, a Democrat, is working to pass the Community Choice Act, which ... keep reading »
President Obama marked the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which he said resulted from a movement carried out by people who “refused to accept a second-class status in America.” In remarks at the White House, where he signed the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Obama said the ADA “began when they not only refused to accept the way the world saw them, but also the way they had seen themselves,” according to UPI. Obama praised several officials who helped get the ADA enacted, including Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., former Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., and former U.S. Attorney General Richard Thornburgh. Former President George H.W. Bush, who signed the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26, 1990, gave some praise to Obama on the eve of the act’s anniversary: “I congratulate President Obama for taking some time today to remember the 19th ... keep reading »
  Break out the balloons! Sunday marks the 19th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the law that guarantees equal opportunity for the nearly 54 million Americans with disabilities. Signed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, the ADA touches many areas of life, including employment. Hold on, did that balloon just deflate? I’ve just read the most recent employment numbers for the 13 million working-age Americans with disabilities. In June, only 23 percent of disabled people had jobs, vs. 72 percent of those without disabilities. This makes me wonder, is the nearly 20-year-old ADA really helping? The disabled unemployment rate – currently at 14.3 percent — has steadily declined since the passage of the ADA. Disability-friendly companies like IBM, Wal-Mart and Ernst & Young openly hire qualified people with disabilities, and from high-profile disability organizations like the U.S. Business Leadership Network. More employers are aware of disability, reasonable accommodation and ... keep reading »
Barack Obama’s election has left some important seats open in his cabinet and in the Illinois senate. His selection of Sen. Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State leaves New York Governor David Paterson, who is partially blind, to appoint Clinton’s replacement. The race for Obama’s Illinois senate seat is also heating up, with Gov. Rod Blagojevich set to name a replacement. Among the handful of candidates being considered, Tammy Duckworth is a popular pick. Ms. Duckworth, 40, served in Iraq and flew combat missions as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot. During a mission in 2004, her helicopter was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade.  Duckworth lost both of her legs — one leg below the knee (BK) and one leg above the knee (AK). After a long recovery process, she uses prosthetics, (such as the Proprio electric-powered ankle shown), that allow her to walk and continue to fly aircraft. Ms. ... keep reading »
What do a professional skier, a Hollywood consultant and a business blogger have in common? A disability, of course. On Tuesday I attended the Disability Innovation Forum in Washington, and met a great group of people who are leading the conversation on hiring and marketing to people with disabilities. The keynote speaker was Bonnie St. John, an African-American leg amputee who became a Paralympic medalist in downhill skiing in 1984. Using comedy and an authenic voice, Bonnie broke down the sterotypes surrounding disability and made everyone in the room feel comfortable. The forum was organized by Working Mother Media‘s Diversity Best Practices division, with the help of Jonathan Kaufman of DisabilityWorks. An education and policy extraordinaire, Jonathan told me he’s about to begin creating a ph.D program in Disability Studies at Columbia University’s medical school. He also consults with Hollywood on movies that feature disabled characters. Some lively afternoon panels ... keep reading »
Last August, the US Chamber of Commerce, an association of three million businesses, sent a letter to Congress opposing a bill that would amend the Americans with Disabilities Act. Calling it an essential “re-writing” of the Act, the Chamber said it believed such changes would open the floodgates for litigation by “virtually all of the entire working population in the United States ” who believed they may have been discriminated against due to disability. “The bill would change the definition of ‘disability’ so that any individual with an impairment — such as poor eyesight correctible by wearing glasses — would be considered disabled and would trigger the employer’s duty to accommodate them.” I wrote about disability discrimination litigation for BusinessWeek Online. In a famous 2002 case, Toyota v. Williams, the Supreme Court sided with Toyota Motor Manufacturing, which refused to tailor a job for an assembly-line worker who claimed she developed ... keep reading »
In the New York Times Sunday Magazine’s “Unintended Consequences” (Jan. 20, 2008), authors Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt pose the argument that some “special-interest” laws, such as the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), may hurt the very people it intended to benefit. Dubner and Levitt, who are also the authors of the best-selling book “Freakonomics” and a blog of the same name, give a qualitative and quantitative example supporting their case. First up: A Deaf patient from Los Angeles sought medical advice and treatment for her knee from Dr. Andrew Brooks. She asked the doctor to hire and pay for a sign language interpreter, and told him that she was well within her rights to do so under the ADA. Brooks agreed to pay, but surmised that he’d lose money by treating the patient: “As it turned out, an interpreter would cost $120 an hour, with a two-hour minimum, and ... keep reading »

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