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National Disability Policy: A Progress Report - October 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013
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SCOPE AND PURPOSE: This report summarizes the status of federal laws and programs serving an estimated 57 million Americans with disabilities, their families, and the diverse segments of the disability community in fulfillment of NCD’s statutory mandate to annually report and make recommendations concerning the state of disability policy in the United States. Consistent with the tradition begun in NCD’s seminal report from 1986, Toward Independence: An Assessment of Federal Laws and Programs Affecting Persons with Disabilities, the 2013 Progress Report is derived from the diverse voices of the disability community, including interviews with knowledgeable consumers, advocates, and experts on disability programs, supports, and services from across the nation. The title, “Strength in Our Differences”, symbolizes the diversity of experiences and abilities within the US disability community, consistent with the diversity of experiences and abilities among all Americans.

In preparing this report, NCD sought a cross-section of views from the diverse disability community. NCD conducted outreach to different populations within the disability community including parents, those seeking to be parents, veterans, youth and young adults with disabilities from diverse cultures, as well as family members and service providers. Several people interviewed fit more than one of these designations. Interviews were conducted by telephone, in person, through video systems, and by print communication.

The interview process was designed to capture the lived experience of participants, through their responses to the guiding question: “What do you think is the single most important public policy issue for Americans with disabilities and their families as we move toward 2014?” Participants were given the opportunity to interpret, respond to, and elaborate on the question. NCD used optional follow-up questions for clarification and to account for variations in the depth of understanding, topic significance, and wide-ranging recommendations for collaboration to address specific concerns or problems.

The excerpts compiled from these interviews were not aggregated. Rather, they were collected to ensure the diverse voices of the disability community are heard and represented, as anecdotal examples of the most significant, heartfelt, and practical concerns of the community itself, capturing the unique insights, experiences, and expertise of the dedicated individuals with whom NCD conversed.

To organize and address the concerns, observations, and opportunities available for progress, this report presents information under four broad subject areas:
(1) Ratification of the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
(2) Economic Empowerment;
(3) Health Care and Access to Medical Treatment; and
(4) Community Integration.

Other topics addressed within these primary subject areas include employment, vocational rehabilitation, mental health care, education, housing, transportation, voting, and veteran-specific issues. Where available, data is included to inform and supplement the observations, discussion, and recommendations.

The narrative, data, and recommendations of the 2013 Progress Report are neither exclusive nor comprehensive, but should be viewed as opportunities to identify work yet to be done, in conjunction with NCD’s ongoing policy outreach and research, and in collaboration with the Administration, Congress, and other agencies that seek fulfillment of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

An official website of the National Council on Disability