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Public Papers - 1991 - July

Memorandum on Access for People With Disabilities to Federal Programs and Employment

1991-07-26

Memorandum for the Heads of

Departments and Agencies

On July 26, 1990, I signed the ``Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990,'' and this Nation welcomed into the mainstream of life all of our fellow citizens with disabilities. As we move forward with the implementation of this landmark legislation, I ask you to look at what you have done, what you currently are doing, and what your plans are for the future to ensure people with disabilities are not excluded from the mainstream.

Many of you have worked hard over the years to establish policies and initiatives to remove barriers that prevented people with disabilities from gaining access to programs and employment opportunities within the Federal Government.

You have removed architectural and physical barriers and provided people with disabilities access to Government facilities and buildings. You have also made real change in employment policies and in the nature of Federal jobs to recognize the talents and skills of people with disabilities. In 1990, people with disabilities represented 6.9 percent of the Federal work force while they represented 3.6 percent of the civilian work force.

However, there is still much work to be done. I want you to renew your efforts in this area and make a special pledge to do everything possible to ensure that people with disabilities have the opportunities they deserve. I want all Federal agencies to review their programs, policies, and practices to ensure that people with disabilities are included in Federal programs, that they are recruited as Federal employees, and that incentives for productivity are encouraged.

Also, I want you to share your experiences and success stories with the private sector so they can benefit from the lessons learned since the 1973 Rehabilitation Act was implemented within the Federal Government. The Federal Government must be a model for the rest of the country to ensure that people with disabilities are afforded opportunities to become full participants in our society. Recruitment, hiring, and career development must afford people with disabilities equal opportunities to achieve their highest potential and become contributing, productive members of the work force.

People with disabilities represent a tremendous pool of talent. They bring to their work diversity in skills and commitment, with a simple request in return -- the chance to be a part of the mainstream of society. As a nation, we face a shortage of qualified workers in the coming years. Those of us who look beyond an individual's disability and, instead, focus on the ability will be better prepared to meet these new challenges.

I know I can count on all of you in advancing the Federal Government as a model employer of people with disabilities.

George Bush

Note: An original was not available for verification of the content of this memorandum.

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