On November 15, The Arc participated in a celebratory event at the White House observing the enactment of legislation which later led to the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act). Speakers discussed the considerable progress made for people with disabilities since the enactment of the DD Act as well as remaining challenges. Panelists on education, employment, and long term supports and services provided overviews and offered their thoughts on improving the service delivery system. Common themes that emerged include the need to focus on people’s strengths, fully include people with disabilities in the policy process, respect the fundamental rights of people with disabilities in decision making, and the need for true integration in community living.
Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) has reintroduced three bills collectively known as the “Transition toward Excellence, Achievement and Mobility Act” or “TEAM Act.” The bills seek to redesign federal programs for youth with intellectual disability as they transition from secondary school to the workforce. The bills were introduced during the last Congress (112th Congress), but did not advance.
- The TEAM Education Act (H.R. 510) seeks to streamline the transition process at the high-school level and require coordination between the state education authority and the state I/DD authority. It would amend the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
- The Team Empowerment Act (H.R. 511) seeks to increase coordination between state educational agencies and state intellectual and developmental disability agencies to successfully transition youth with significant disabilities from high school into meaningful employment and post-secondary education opportunities. It would amend the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act.
- The TEAM Employment Act (H.R. 509) seeks to realign preferred outcomes for people with significant disabilities, and streamlines public funding by requiring the Vocational Rehabilitation system to actively engage with other state entities. It would amend the Rehabilitation Act.
The bills were referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
In preparation for the reauthorization of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act), The National Council on Disabilities (NCD) issued a report entitled, “Rising Expectations: The Developmental Disabilities Act Revisited.” NCD found that people with DD continue to wait for services in the community, services vary from state to state, and the DD system is fragmented. The report also found that perceptions about people with DD are outdated in our country. The DD Act established DD Councils, University Centers for Excellence, protection and advocacy (P & A) programs, and family support programs. To read the report, see http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/publications/2010/rising_expectations_02-15-11.html