U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today issued the following statement in support of President Obama's proclamation of October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month:
"President Obama and I recognize the critical role that education plays in empowering the next generation of Americans with disabilities. This administration is committed to setting high expectations for all students. Students with disabilities, like all students, must be college- and career-ready because jobs in the knowledge economy will require more than a high school diploma. With a high-quality education, children with disabilities will be self-sufficient and will be able to work and live independently.
"That is why I am proud of this administration's cradle-to-career focus in ensuring that all Americans, including individuals with disabilities, are ready for success in the workforce. Just last month, the Education Department released the final regulations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Part C, to improve services and outcomes for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. The services and supports we are providing to our youngest population of infants and toddlers with disabilities will ensure, as President Obama has stated, that 'they are better prepared to succeed in the classroom and later in the workplace, helping position our Nation to lead in the 21st century.'
"The Department also recently marked the 38th Anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which was signed into law on Sept. 26, 1973. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was notable because it provided comprehensive services and funding for employment and independent living that truly enabled people with disabilities to work and live in the community as never before. We are proud of the many projects underway at the Department of Education to assist children and adults with disabilities in acquiring the tools they need to achieve their dreams and celebrate their contributions to American industry and our communities."
To celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) is highlighting projects and initiatives funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) and the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitative Research (NIDRR) that improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities, including transition-aged youth.
All month, OSERS will feature innovative, employment-based projects and individual success stories on http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/deam-2011/index.html.
National Disability Employment Awareness Month dates to 1945 when Congress passed Public Law 176, designating the first week in October as "National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week." The name of the month was changed by Congress in 1988.