October 22, 2015
Small Business Administration
409 3rd St, SW
Washington DC 20416
Dear Administrator Contreras-Sweet:
I write on behalf of the National Council on Disability (NCD) -- an independent federal agency charged with advising the President, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding laws, policies, practices, and procedures that affect people with disabilities – to inquire why people with disabilities are not a part of SBA’s presumed group list under the 8a Business Development program and request a meeting with you to discuss adding people with disabilities to the list.
SBA states that in order for a group to become a part of the “presumed group” they must be socially disadvantaged. NCD asserts that persons with disabilities meet the required criteria.
According to SBA guidelines, to be categorized as socially disadvantaged an individual needs to be subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias because of their identities as members of groups without regard to their individual qualities. The social disadvantage must come from circumstances beyond their control. NCD asserts that people with disabilities are socially disadvantaged because of century-old cultural biases towards people with disabilities which has led to high poverty levels, unemployment rates and low placement in high paying positions.
Fear and stereotypes about disability are deeply ingrained in our culture and media outlets perpetuate the stereotype. A person with a disability is seldom seen beyond the framework of their disability. The legacy of demeaning, isolating, and institutionalizing people with disabilities has left in its wake negative and inaccurate beliefs and attitudes about what it means to live with a disability. These stereotypes and misinformation are somewhat responsible for the percentage of people with disabilities living in poverty. In fact, twice as many people with disabilities live in poverty and less than 30% of working age people in this population are participating in the workforce, far less than the 78% participation rate for other Americans.  And the percentage of persons with disabilities placed in management and professional/technical jobs are woefully underrepresented.
NCD is aware that SBA has regulations that would allow a representative of an identifiable group to request the group be added to the socially disadvantaged presumed group list, but we are asking the Small Business Administration to independently make this regulatory change absent any interested parties request to do so.
We would like to discuss these matters at greater length and depth with you and request a constructive meeting with the SBA at your earliest convenience. To coordinate dates and times that work best for the SBA, please contact NCD’s General Counsel and Director of Policy, Joan Durocher, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your consideration.