President Joe Biden Delivers Statement to Mark 50th Anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
On September 26, 2023, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 marked its 50th anniversary. The Rehab Act forbids federal programs and entities that receive financing from the government from discriminating against qualifying people based on their handicaps. In the United States, safeguards for people with disabilities were originally provided by this federal statute.
To commemorate the anniversary, President Joe Biden delivered a significant statement. He reaffirmed his dedication to upholding Americans with disabilities' rights. He signed an Executive Order to increase opportunities for people with disabilities in the Federal workforce as part of this commitment. In his early years as a senator, he also supported the Rehab Act as a cosponsor.
As per The White House, President Biden's statement read, "Every American, especially those with disabilities, is worthy of dignity and our respect and should have access to every opportunity available in our country."
He continued, "Fifty years ago, our nation took a critical step toward realizing that promise with the enactment of the Rehabilitation Act. This landmark legislation is one of the most consequential civil rights laws in our history. It is responsible for banning discrimination on the basis of disability by federally funded entities through Section 504 of the law, and it paved the way for the Americans with Disabilities Act. As a Senator, I was proud to co-sponsor this legislation as one of my earliest acts in office."
Biden continued, "Since then, I’ve remained steadfastly committed to ensuring that the one in four Americans who live with disabilities have a fair shot at achieving the American dream. I’ve signed an Executive Order advancing opportunities for people with disabilities in the Federal workforce, and my administration continues to help State and local governments, employers, and nonprofits tap Federal funds to hire more Americans with disabilities."
He further added, "However, we have more work to do to build on the Rehabilitation Act’s foundation. Disabled Americans are still three times less likely to have a job – and they often earn less for doing the same work. Voting locations, transit, and public spaces are too often inaccessible. This is wrong, and it’s why my Administration is committed to equal access for all."
He concluded the statement by saying: "On the 50th anniversary of this legislation, we owe a debt of gratitude to the tireless advocacy of many people with disabilities and others for the passage of this law and the others that followed. My Administration will continue our efforts to break down barriers for all those who face discrimination."
As per Special Olympics, the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act were the first comprehensive civil rights laws to be passed in the United States, protecting people with disabilities from discrimination in a wide range of public areas, including employment, transportation, government programs, public accommodations, and many other fundamental, universal services.
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