2013: Obama’s Inauguration and People Living with Disabilities

On Monday, January 21, the nation inaugurated Barrack H. Obama for his second term in office as the 44th President of the United States. During his inauguration address, the President reiterated his administration’s agenda for the American people and made specific mention of Americans living with disabilities. Although assistive programs face many challenges, including upcoming debt and budget battles, the President seemed resolute in his desire to protect entitlement programs like Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act of 2009, which many of those living with disabilities rely on.

“We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future,” President Obama said during his address. “…We remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.”

The incumbent administration has actively pursued equitable care for the disability community, including finding ways to provide fair and non-discriminatory treatment to those who have not been given so in the past. For example, the Affordable Care Act prevents insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions or disabilities while also expanding Medicaid coverage for people with disabilities.

Under President Obama, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act was signed into law, doubling tax breaks for businesses that hire veterans with disabilities. And current policies—proposed through the Department of Labor, seek to require companies with federal contracts set a goal of creating a workforce that comprises at least 7% people with disabilities.  To that end, the President requested (note: Congress actually approves and funds the budget, the Executive branch can only request funding) increased funding to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and other grants that assist young adults with disabilities in receiving the education and training they need to be competitive in the job market. Further, the administration strengthened “Part C” of the IDEA to improve services provided to the nation’s children with disabilities and their families.

In addition to increasing health, employment, and educational opportunities for people with disabilities, we’ve seen improvements to housing and community resources across the country. Since the launch of the “Year of Community Living” directive in 2009, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have worked together to improve access to housing, community support, and independent living for Americans with disabilities. The program offers many opportunities to low-income adults with disabilities by providing the proper support, services, and subsidies to keep independent citizens from being unnecessarily institutionalized and allowing them to choose where they live.

To find out more about the strides the White House has made and what it plans to do in the future under President Obama, check out the White House Office on Disability and the Disability Agenda at Change.gov.

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One Response to 2013: Obama’s Inauguration and People Living with Disabilities

  1. Reblogged this on Optimal Performance Consultants Blog and commented:
    Mr Obama is all about Diversity in the US of A. It is important to see concrete moves in relation to accessibility and its impact on diversity for all people and all levels of ability. A great Blog worth reading here in OPC.

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