WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 19, 2018) -- History was on display during a swearing-in ceremony for National Council on Disability Chairman Neil Romano celebrating the 28th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The event at the National Archives' historic Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, housing the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, gave significance to the historic date of President George H.W. Bush signing landmark legislation protecting the rights of people with disabilities.
The event began with a performance of the National Anthem ensemble by the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps.
U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper of Mississippi, who recently introduced legislation called the Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment (TIME) Act -- meant to support better employment opportunities for people with disabilities -- spoke on the importance of the ADA.
"It's appropriate that tonight we celebrate the 28th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in conjunction with Neil Romano's swearing-in as chairman of the National Council on Disability," said Harper. "The passage and continued implementation of this landmark legislation has been a key component of empowering people with disabilities in the pursuit of equal participation in our economy and policy."
He also discussed the importance of NCD.
"The National Council on Disability is a small agency that does a big job," said Harper. It has to straddle partisan politics and policies; not to mention, quite a few differences of opinion in the disability community, he added. "To carry out its mission, being one of a trusted advisor to the president, the Congress, and other federal entities and organizations, I'm confident that NCD will fulfill that mission under Neil Romano's leadership."
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao administered the oath of office, followed by remarks from the chairman, who was designated for the position by President Donald J. Trump earlier this year.
"This past March when Senate Majority Leader [Mitch] McConnell reappointed me to the National Council on Disability and President Trump elevated me to the chairmanship, I felt a deep sense of pride...and I also felt an immediate sense of obligation," said Romano.
He then spoke on the his approach to disability policy.
"I do come to this position with strong conviction that we all share a common goal: that all Americans, with and without disabilities should be fully integrated into our society and be allowed to achieve as much as they can and go as far as they're able, and their ability can take them," he said. "This is not just the intent of a single piece of legislation, or the Americans with Disabilities Act that was signed into law 28 years ago this month by then-President Bush." he continued. "It's the highest ideal of what we want for all Americans and what we should strive for in and out of government every day."
First established as an advisory Council within the Department of Education in 1978, NCD became an independent federal agency in 1984. In 1986, NCD recommended enactment of an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and drafted the first version of the bill which was introduced in the House and Senate in 1988. Since enactment of the ADA in 1990, NCD has continued to play a leading role in crafting disability policy, and advising the President, Congress and other federal agencies on disability policies, programs, and practices.
# # #