Presidential Radio Address - 26 July 2003
THE PRESIDENT: 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.
Thank you for listening.