Good morning. This weekend marks the 13th anniversary of the Americans With
Disability Act, one of the great compassionate acts of American government.
Since becoming law, the ADA has helped to improve the quality of life for
more than 50,000 million Americans with physical and mental disabilities.
As a result, it is easier today for people with disabilities to find a job,
to enter public buildings, and to live more independently in their communities.
These are all welcome changes in American life.
Many citizens have dedicated themselves to serving the interest of persons
with disabilities, and some of them are here with me at the White House.
I am joined by members of the President's Committee on Mental Retardation.
The men and women on this committee include people with disabilities, as
well as parents, teachers, health care workers, and advocates. They recently
voted to change the committee's name to the President's Committee for People
with Intellectual Disabilities. And I was pleased to sign an executive order
instituting that change.
There is much more we can do to assure that Americans with disabilities
are treated with dignity and respect. In 2001, I announced the New Freedom
Initiative, to further promote the full participation of people with disabilities
in all areas of society. As part of the New Freedom Initiative we're giving
states funding to help people with disabilities commute to work, or purchase
equipment that allows them to work from home. We are promoting home ownership
for people with disabilities, and educating builders about the need for more
accessible rental housing.
We are working with Congress to provide record levels of funding for special
education programs, and to make sure the money is used to provide the most
help to the most children. And we are making government websites more accessible
to people with disabilities so that they can more easily find information
about services and programs of the federal government. We're also focused
on providing better care to people with mental illness. I'm committed to
making sure people get the treatment and support they need and don't fall
through the cracks.
My administration continues to work with states to ensure full implementation
of the Supreme Court's Olnstead decision. That decision rightly mandates
that individuals with disabilities who can receive support and treatment
in a community setting should be given an opportunity to live close to their
families and friends whenever possible. People with disabilities now have
more freedom to do productive work and live independent lives. We're making
good progress toward ensuring that persons with disabilities know the American
Dream is meant for them. With changes in old ways of thinking, the development
of new technologies, and the federal government's firm commitment to equality,
more and more people with disabilities continue to become full participants
in the American life.