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U.S. Department of Commerce, White House and FCC Highlight Groundbreaking, Empowering Technologies to Recognize 20th Anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, July 19, 2010

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U.S. Department of Commerce, White House and FCC Highlight Groundbreaking, Empowering Technologies to Recognize 20th Anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act

Department of Commerce awards nearly $15 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Grant to improve communications for people with disabilities nationwide

The U.S. Department of Commerce, in partnership with the White House and the Federal Communications Commission, hosted an event today celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The program highlighted innovative technologies that have been developed to empower the daily lives of Americans with disabilities.

“On the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we are reminded of legislation that wasn't just a great civil rights achievement, but also a catalyst for innovation and opportunity throughout our country,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “Because of this Act, millions of talented Americans who had previously been denied full career opportunities, flowed into the U.S. workforce and made immeasurable contributions to businesses nationwide.  Meanwhile, the Act helped catalyze the development of technologies so people with disabilities would have a fair and equal opportunity to excel in their jobs.   The Americans with Disabilities Act is an achievement that remains just as relevant and just as important today as it was when it was signed into law 20 years ago.”

Announced at the event was a nearly $15 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act investment to help bridge the technological divide, boost economic growth, and improve communications for people with disabilities nationwide. The grant to Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc. (CSD) intends to expand broadband adoption among people who are deaf and hard of hearing and provide them with tools to more fully participate in the digital economy.

The event provided an opportunity to demonstrate various technologies designed to level the playing field for people with disabilities, and affirmed the Obama administration’s commitment to getting all Americans back to work. New and innovative technology helps create opportunities for people with disabilities, and critically increases options for employment. Nearly 60 percent of individuals with visual impairments are unable to find work, and 40 percent of individuals with hearing loss remain unemployed.

The ADA celebration included a technology fair where various corporations demonstrated their products, encompassing both assistive technologies and mainstream accessibility technologies. It also included speakers from the White House, the Commerce Department, and the FCC, as well as performances by students from Gallaudet University.

Related NTIA release