Senator Tom Harkin

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Freedom to Choose

FULFILLING THE PROMISE OF COMMUNITY LIVING Dear ABILITY readers, At a recent roundtable of the Senate HELP Committee, Emmanuel Smith described the challenges he faced growing up in Iowa with brittle bone disease. All his life, he feared that if he were to incur an injury, it would limit his independence and force him into a nursing home. The ...
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Possibilities of ADA — Harkin

Dear ABILITY readers, Thanks to the progress we’ve made since passing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) more than 20 years ago, millions of people have grown up proud of who they are, confident that the doors of opportunity are open to them. This landmark legislation was a major victory for equality, and helped to change the lives of ...
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The Reality of Restraints

Dear ABILITY readers, At a recent event in Washington, Robert Ernst described how as a first grader, he was dragged down the hallway of his school by his wrists and thrown into isolation by school officials. He remained unattended in a dark, small room for up to 30 minutes at a time because he had a learning disability and ...
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Make a Commitment

Dear ABILITY readers, At the beginning of every new year, millions of Americans make resolutions to live better. They plan to eat healthier, lose weight, quit smoking and/or step up their volunteer work. As we begin 2014, I propose that we make an additional, collective resolution: to renew our commitment to creating employment opportunities for people with disabilities. While ...
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The ADA Generation

Dear ABILITY readers, Many of the stories in this magazine are a testament to the progress our nation has made since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Yet for numerous Americans who came of age since the law was enacted in 1990, one stubborn challenge remains before we can achieve full equality for all: employment.— My ...
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Implementing the Final Rule

Dear ABILITY readers, In the 23 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law, we have seen significant progress in increasing the accessibility of the built environment in the United States, as well as in improving access in our telecommunications, technology and transportation infrastructures. More importantly, the ADA has given millions of Americans the opportunity ...
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Trying to Make it Work

Dear ABILITY readers, Now into the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it’s important that we take stock of the progress we’ve made in fulfilling its promise. While we’ve come a long way in our efforts to integrate people with disabilities into mainstream society, we’ve yet to make adequate progress in the employment arena. In the ...
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The Deaf President Movement

Dear ABILITY readers, Twenty-five years ago, Gallaudet University, the premier institution of higher education for deaf Americans, passed over two qualified deaf candidates to appoint a hearing person as the school’s new president. The students at the Washington, DC based institution were driven to act. They marched, called on Congress, and protested not only the appointment of the new ...
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Harkin Statement on 23rd Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, released the following statement on the 23rd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Harkin was the Senate sponsor of the ADA and delivered the first-ever Senate floor speech in American Sign Language upon Senate passage of the law. Harkin recorded ...
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Celebrating the ADA — Reflections From Tom Harkin

As we all know, this year marks the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As chief sponsor of the ADA in the Senate, I will always remember the day it was signed into law—July 26, 1990—as one of the proudest in my legislative career. We have come a long way in the last 20 years. Before ...
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Harkin Voices Support for Ratification of UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and author of the Americans with Disabilities Act, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in support of ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Sen. Harkin: “Good Morning.  I would like to thank Chairman Kerry and the Committee ...
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Where Are the Jobs?

Dear ABILITY readers, Recently, I gave the keynote address at the US Chamber of Commerce’s Corporate Disability Employment Summit in Washington, DC. During my talk, I sounded the alarm on a disturbing trend: more than two thirds of Americans with disabilities are without a job, and adults with disabilities are leaving the labor force at more than 10 times ...
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Advancing the Civil Rights Movement

A Movement for Employment Equality Dear ABILITY readers, On March 5, 2011, I had the opportunity to travel to Selma, AL to take part in the commemoration of a significant event of the civil rights movement. Forty-six years ago, a peaceful march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ended with its participants violently ...