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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release December 14, 1998
                     OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

Washington, DC -- Vice President Gore commended the President's Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities and called on the Administration to implement specific recommendations -- part of a longstanding commitment to improving opportunities for people with disabilities.

"I applaud the Task Force for its powerful recommendations to provide critically needed employment opportunities for people with disabilities," Vice President Gore said. "Finding new ways to ensure that people with disabilities are able to keep and obtain a job doesn't just benefit them -- it enriches our whole society."

The Vice President accepted "Re-charting the Course," the first report of the Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults With Disabilities. The Vice President applauded the recommendations and called on the Administration to immediately implement the following specific recommendations:

     The Vice President asked the Office of Personnel Management (OPM)
     to develop a model plan to increase representation of adults with
     disabilities in the Federal workforce.  According to the 1998
     Harris Survey of Americans with Disabilities, less than three out
     of ten (29%) working-age adults with disabilities are full or
     part-time employees, although 75% of adults with disabilities
     indicate they would prefer to work.  To help address this problem,
     the Vice President asked OPM to develop -- by March 1, 1999 -- a
     model plan for agencies to increase representation of adults with
     disabilities in the federal workforce.  This plan will include ways
     to involve more students with disabilities in federal internship
     programs, give employees with disabilities options to enhance their
     leadership skills and advance their careers, and recruit more
     people with disabilities at all levels of the federal workforce.

     The Vice President asked the Small Business Administration (SBA)
     to launch a new outreach campaign to help Americans with
     disabilities start their own businesses.  People with disabilities
     have higher rates of self-employment and small business experience
     than the rest of America, yet too often they don't know what
     assistance they may be eligible for.  The Vice President asked SBA
     to begin implementing right away the Task Force's recommendation to
     educate people with disabilities who want to start their own
     businesses.  This campaign would provide greater access to
     entrepreneurial development programs, financial assistance
     incentives, and government contracting opportunities, including the
     Section 8 (a) program, HUB Zones, and the small disadvantaged
     business program.

     The Vice President also gave the Hammer Award to the
     Computer/Electronic Accommodation Program (CAP) and committed the
     Administration to assuring that all Federal employees have the
     accessible technology they need to work.  The Vice President gave
     the Hammer Award to the Department of Defense's CAP program, which
     provides assistive technology to DoD employees with disabilities 
     to ensure that they have the telecommunications and computer
     technology they need to perform their jobs.  Since its inception,
     CAP has filled over 14,500 requests for accommodations.  The Vice
     President also committed the Administration to finding ways to
     assure that assistive technology is available to all Federal 

     The Vice President reiterated the Administration's commitment to
     passing a strong enforceable patients' bill of rights to improve
     the quality of care for people with disabilities.  The Vice
     President also reiterated that the first priority when Congress
     returns should be to pass a strong enforceable patients' bill of
     rights that includes critical patient protections for people with
     disabilities, including access to the specialists they need, and an
     independent external appeals process to address grievances with
     health plans.

     Today's announcements build on the Administration's longstanding

commitment to addressing issues that keep people with disabilities from finding and keeping jobs, including difficulties with getting adequate health care coverage. These efforts include: fighting for the Health Insurance Accountability Act of 1996, which helps people with disabilities keep health insurance by limiting preexisting condition exclusions; advocating for the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996, which took steps to end discrimination based on mental illnesses; and working for a new state option in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 to allow people with disabilities to purchase Medicaid when they return to work. This year, the Administration worked hard to pass the Workforce Incentives Act of 1998 in the budget negotiations.