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Campbell, Phillip, executive director, Association for Retarded Citizens of
Caudre, Joseph, AIDS Advisory Board, State of Massachusetts
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Transportation, North Franklin, CT.
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Connecticut, Inc., North Franklin, CT....
Healy, Jean, director, Deaf-Blind Contact Center
Horndt, Eileen Healy, executive director, Independence Northwest.
Husted-Jensen, Nancy, chairman, Governor's Commission on the Handi-
capped, Providence, RI.
Johnson, Barbara, Orono, ME
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OVERSIGHT HEARING ON H.R. 4498, AMERICANS
WITH DISABILITIES ACT OF 1988
MONDAY, OCTOBER 24, 1988
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Boston, MA. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:13 a.m., in the Lafayette Hotel, 1 Avenue D'Lafayette, Boston, MA, Hon. Major R. Owens, presiding.
Members present. Representatives Owens, Moakley and Atkins. Staff present. Maria Cuprill and Jillian Evans.
Mr. OWENS. The Subcommittee on Select Education of the Education and Labor Committee will please come to order. I want to first begin by thanking my colleague, Congressman Chet Atkins, who has accepted temporary appointment to this subcommittee and our official hearing becomes 100 percent official as a result of that. Thank you very much for joining us this morning. Congressman Atkins, who is quite familiar to most of you, will give an opening statement later on.
Let me first welcome all of you here today as participants in a great celebration. We are here to celebrate the fact that a thorough and far-reaching piece of legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate. We are here to celebrate the fact that there is widespread agreement and consensus on this bill. We have strong bi-partisan support in both houses. And we also wish to highlight the fact that both of the candidates running for President have endorsed this legislation.
Our task today, and in the months ahead, is to guarantee that none of this monumental support is eroded. We must make certain that all parties understand the broad and massive support behind this bill. We know that there are strong forces of opposition waiting to ambush many of the provisions contained in this act. They will, of course, never acknowledge their deep-seated prejudices. We will hear, instead, endless complaints about the high costs of guaranteeing the rights of Americans with disabilities. We are here to clearly place upon the record some of the pain and misery caused by the failure to acknowledge these rights. We are here to document for the Nation some of the great losses the Nation suffers as a result of the failure to establish an environment which maximizes the opportunities for Americans with disabilities.
Our hearing today is an important step toward assuring that the final legislation will be as great as the present bill. If there is a clear understanding of the great empowerment movement behind this effort, Congress will act to produce a bill which is not shackled by weakening amendments, damaging compromises or gross distortions. We need your testimony in order to preserve the Americans With Disabilities Act as it is written. We all have good reason to believe that a bill will pass. But when the process is completed, we want to celebrate a final product as great as the proposal we have initiated.
The concern of today's hearing is discrimination on the basis of disability in America. The House Subcommittee on Select Education is the subcommittee responsible for independence-enhancing service delivery programs for people with disabilities, such as rehabilitation services, the Independent Living Center Program, and special education.
Today, I am here also as a proud sponsor of the Americans With Disabilities Act, H.R. 4498. I would like to take this time to congratulate and to thank the sponsors, Congressman Coelho, Senator Harkin, Senator Weicker, Senator Kennedy, and many others who also are cosponsors of this important piece of legislation.
It has been a very special year for people with disabilities. Congress recently passed legislation which extends protection under Federal housing law to people with disabilities. The Civil Rights Restoration Act, also passed by the Congress earlier this year, restored protections that had existed for people with disabilities under current federal law prior to the Grove City College versus Bell Supreme Court Decision in 1984.
But perhaps the events which have left the most lasting impression on myself and many others were those that took place at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC this spring. The paternalism and condescending attitudes which deaf people and people with all different kinds of disabilities have had to endure since time immemorial were never more apparent as when the then board chairman of the university told the students and the community that they must continue to wait for the selection of a deaf president to guide their great school. The students and faculty there empowered themselves with well organized and forceful advocacy and we now have as president of Gallaudet University the very distinguished Dr. I. King Jordan, who, like his constituents, is deaf. I believe that one day in the not so distant future we may well look back and come to see the events at Gallaudet University as the equivalent of the 1965 Civil Rights March in Selma, AL in the fight by minorities for their civil rights.
From this year onward, the history of empowerment for people with disabilities will be divided into two eras: before the Gallaudet rebellion and after the Gallaudet rebellion.
The crown jewel for the disability rights movement in the legislative arena, however, will be the enactment by the Federal Govern, ment of the Americans With Disabilities Act. This bill, which was introduced in April of this year, has attracted massive and bipartisan support, with 117 cosponsors in the House and 26 in the Senate. Not until all Americans with disabilities enjoy the full measure of civil rights protections will they truly be full citizens of the United States of America.