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Lift Every Voice: Modernizing Disability Policies and Programs to Serve a Diverse Nation

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December 1, 1999

This report is also available in Spanish, Chinese, braille, and large print, on diskette and audiocassette, and on the Internet at the National Council on Disability's award-winning Web page ().

The views contained in this report do not necessarily represent those of the Administration, because this document has not been subjected to the A-19 Executive Branch review process.


December 1, 1999

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

On behalf of the National Council on Disability (NCD), I am pleased to submit NCD's new report on issues affecting people with disabilities from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds, Lift Every Voice: Modernizing Disability Policies and Programs to Serve a Diverse Nation. We were pleased to release the Executive Summary of this report at the White House forum on Disability and Cultural Diversity on July 26, 1999, the ninth anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

As you know, there continues to be a large disparity in employment and educational outcomes between people with disabilities and the non-disabled population in the United States. This gap is even more pronounced for people with disabilities who are members of racial or ethnic minority groups. The attached report calls on the Administration and Congress to work to close this gap by making a concerted effort to translate the promise of ADA and other disability laws and programs into real opportunities for children and adults with disabilities from diverse racial and ethnic groups, their families, and their communities. NCD stands ready to work with you and leaders throughout your Administration and Congress to implement the recommendations in this report.

As you have reminded us through your One America initiative, America benefits from the diversity of our citizenry. To fully tap this rich diversity, we must modernize our disability policies and programs so that they are delivered in a culturally competent manner. I look forward to your ongoing leadership to ensure that the American dream is truly accessible to all.


Marca Bristo

(This same letter of transmittal was sent to the President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate and the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.)

"The Black National Anthem"
James Weldon Johnson, 1900

Lift ev'ry voice and sing,
Till earth and heaven ring.
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise,
High as the list'ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chast'ning rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might.
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee,
Shadowed beneath thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.

James W. Johnson originally wrote this song for a presentation in celebration of the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln. It was adopted as the Black National Anthem in the early 1940s.



Marca Bristo, Chairperson
Kate Pew Wolters, First Vice Chairperson
Hughey Walker, Second Vice Chairperson
Yerker Andersson, Ph.D.
Dave N. Brown
John D. Kemp
Audrey McCrimon
Gina McDonald
Bonnie O'Day, Ph.D.
Lilliam Rangel-Diaz
Debra Robinson
Shirley W. Ryan
Michael B. Unhjem
Rae E. Unzicker
Ela Yazzie-King


Ethel D. Briggs, Executive Director
Mark S. Quigley, Public Affairs Specialist
Kathleen A. Blank, Attorney/Program Specialist
Geraldine Drake Hawkins, Ph.D., Program Specialist
Moira Shea, Senior Legislative and Economic Adviser
Allan W. Holland, Accountant
Brenda Bratton, Executive Secretary
Stacey S. Brown, Staff Assistant


The National Council on Disability (NCD) wishes to express its appreciation to Sarah L. Triano, graduate assistant at San Francisco State University's Institute on Disability, for her assistance in drafting this report. NCD would also like to acknowledge the contributions of participating individuals and organizations, including members of the San Francisco State University Institute on Disability Report Team (Jean Lin, Laura Echegary, Randolph Feliz, David Freeman, and director/professor Paul Longmore), Kathy Abrahamson and Kathy Knox of the Rose Resnick Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco, Nancy Grant and Cheryl Wu of the Hearing Society of San Francisco, and Steven P. Triano, president and CEO of Automated Business Concepts, Inc., in Fremont, California.

NCD would also like to thank LaDonna Fowler of the American Indian Rehabilitation Rights Organization of Warriors, Mandan Kundu of the Rehabilitation Counseling Program at Southern University and A&M College, and Paul Leung of the Department of Rehabilitation Counseling at the University of North Texas for their assistance.