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January 2011



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This afternoon, I will be joining President Obama and the leadership of the
cross-disability community at a special ceremony at the White House where
the President will be announcing the intention of the United States to
become a signatory to the UN Convention on Disability Rights. The treaty
will enshrine in international law a wide array of rights, some of which are
present in the United States already, such as the right to reasonable
accommodation, as well as others, such as the right to community living
supports as opposed to having only segregated options available, that we
still have to fight for in our own country. You can read the treaty yourself
by going to http://www.un. org/disabilities /default. asp?id=259. This is an
important day for our community and I believe the President should be
applauded for taking this important step.

Ari Ne’eman
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
http://www.autistic advocacy. org
info@autisticadvoca cy.org

Summary of Disability Leadership Meeting with the President and Cabinet Members

-This SUMMARY was prepared by the individuals who attended the meeting with
President Obama on July 24.
-The President was honoring the March 31, 2009 request by the Justice for
All Action Network (JFAAN) to have a face-to-face meeting.  JFAAN hopes
future meetings will be more inclusive of the leaders of the national
organizations representing the major disability groups run by persons with
disabilities. This would fulfill JFAAN’s vision of “Nothing About Us
Without Us.”
-The Justice for All Action Network’s (JFAAN) Steering Committee will be
developing next steps ASAP, feel free to send your ideas and interest to
Andrew Imparato, AImparato@aapd.com .
-Follow these and related activities at http://www.jfactivist.org/


On July 24, President Obama invited a group of 12 representatives of the
disability community to meet privately with him and other Administration
officials in advance of an East Room ceremony marking the 19th anniversary
of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and his announcement of the
Administration’s decision to sign and seek Senate ratification of the UN
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Attending the meeting for the disability community were Polly Arango of
Family Voices; Marca Bristo of the US International Council on Disabilities
and Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago; Kelly Buckland of the National
Council on Independent Living; former Congressman Tony Coelho; Michael
Fitzpatrick of the National Alliance on Mental Illness; Marty Ford of the
Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities and The Arc and UCP Disability
Policy Collaboration; Andy Imparato of AAPD; Ted Kennedy, Jr. of the AAPD
Board and The Marwood Group;  Michael May of the Sendero Group, a
technology company; Maria Veronica Reina of the Global Partnership for
Disability and Development; Jeff Rosen of Snap!VRS, a video relay and
technology company; and Bob Williams of the District of Columbia, former
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Disability and Long-Term Care Policy at the
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Joining the President at the meeting  were Attorney General Eric Holder;
Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis; Melody Barnes, Assistant to the President
for Domestic Policy; Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary Chris
Lu; Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy;
Paul Miller, Special Assistant to the President for Personnel; Lisa Brown,
Staff Secretary to the President; Michael Strautmanis, Chief of Staff to
Valerie Jarrett; Jeff Crowley, Director of the White House Office of
National AIDS Policy and Senior Advisor on Disability Issues to the
Domestic Policy Council; Tina Tchen, Director of the Office of Public
Engagement; and Kathy Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability
Employment Policy.

The disability community representatives engaged in a productive dialogue
with Attorney General Holder and Secretary Solis before the President
arrived, discussing our priorities for civil rights enforcement at both
departments, including but not limited to internet accessibility, Olmstead
enforcement, reducing the waiting period for ADA complaints to be resolved,
using OFCCP to enforce the affirmative action provisions in the
Rehabilitation Act, protecting children from the use of aversives and
restraints; and implementing a government-wide strategy to improve the
representation of people with significant disabilities in the federal
workforce.  Both Holder and Solis were very interested in continuing the
discussion in follow-up meetings with disability community representatives
in the weeks to come.

When the President arrived, he noted that we had a wide-ranging agenda that
included employment, education, technology, health care, and civil rights
policy, and indicated his interest in using this first meeting as a
listening session.  We thanked him for the meeting and for his leadership
in signing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, we
emphasized the importance of seeing disability policy issues as
fundamentally about fairness, civil rights and human rights.  We shared
some personal discrimination stories and expressed our desire to work with
the White House and agencies across the administration on a broad-based
strategy to make progress between now and next July 26, which will be the
20th anniversary of the ADA.  A significant portion of our time with the
President was devoted to health care reform and the need to end the
institutional bias in Medicaid, and the President offered to have Nancy-Ann
DeParle and Peter Orszag and other members of his health reform team sit
down with us in the next few weeks to discuss our ideas, including making
the Community Choice Act a state option as part of the final bill that
emerges from Congress.

The disability community representatives came away believing that the
President, his cabinet representatives, and his senior White House staff
are committed to working with our community to achieve the goals of the
Americans with Disabilities Act.  We look forward to following up on all of
the issues discussed at the meeting.  All in all, we felt that this
historic meeting represented a very important step forward for our
community and for the country.

Ari Ne’eman
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network

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