Obama rule pushes jobs for people with disabilities

Harkin: “Historic” effort moves country toward equal opportunity

By FINN M. BULLERS
Freelance writer/editor

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Vice President Joe Biden recently announced that the Obama aministration will implement a new rule to promote employment for individuals with disabilities.

The rule, aimed at federal contractors and subcontractors, is designed to increase the hiring, retention and promotion of qualified individuals with disabilities.

The rule enforces Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and for the first time sets a goal that at least 7 percent of the federal contractor workforce, at all levels, should be made up of qualified individuals with disabilities.

In a press release issued Tuesday, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said he was encouraged by the administration’s push to increase employment for people with disabilities.

“We have yet to see a real improvement in the labor force for Americans with disabilities. Today, more than two-thirds of adults with disabilities do not have access to the labor force,” said Harkin.

“This new rule will be a driving force to create new opportunities for employment of individuals with disabilities by harnessing the power of federal contractors and subcontractors, who employ more than 20 percent of the American labor force.

“This historic announcement will move our country farther along the path toward equal opportunity and economic well-being that was envisioned when we passed the ADA.”

As chief sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act,  Harkin has focused attention on increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Two years ago, Harkin and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce set a goal of increasing the workforce of people with disabilities by more than 20 percent by 2015.

 

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