From the blog of the American Association of People with Disabilities:
A group of eight disability advocacy organizations this week pressed the incoming Obama administration for a greater voice in decision-making for people with disabilities as well as high-level appointments.
In a letter sent this week, the groups maintained that the incoming administration had not reached out to disability advocacy organizations in seeking appointees to the new administration. They asked for the inclusion of a “qualified person with a disability, who is an expert in disability policy,” to serve on the president’s domestic policy staff.
The groups criticized the incoming administration’s appointments to date, saying they “do not reflect a concerted effort” to include qualified candidates with disabilities in senior positions in the new administration.
“The participation of qualified people with disabilities in shaping policy is critical to the success of the programs and services that enhance our lives,” they said.
The full text of the letter follows.
December 23, 2008
Melody C. Barnesâ€¨, Designee â€“- Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy
Lisa Brown, â€¨Designee -â€“ Staff Secretary,â€¨ Presidential Transition Team
451 6th St., NW
Washington, DC 20001
Sent via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Ms. Barnes and Ms. Brown:
We are writing on behalf of the more than 50 million Americans with disabilities to urge you to carry out the commitment President-elect Obama made to the disability community during the campaign. Specifically, the undersigned grassroots consumer controlled organizations are writing to urge you to include a qualified person with a disability, who is an expert in disability policy, to serve on the Domestic Policy Council (DPC). As a collective of organizations, we represent the full spectrum of disabilities.
We are concerned that there has been little outreach to disability-run organizations in the selection process for President-elect Obama’s Cabinet and political appointees and we are concerned that the appointments to date do not reflect a concerted effort to include qualified individuals with disabilities to serve in senior positions in the new Administration.
Familiarity and experience with disability issues and the disability community is critical to implementing the inclusive vision for America that President-elect Obama campaigned on. In short, we strongly urge you to act promptly to identify a qualified candidate from our community to join the domestic policy team in the White House.
As you are aware, there are a number of highly qualified individuals from the disability community with broad experience in a range of domestic policy issues who could contribute to policy development in the White House. It is absolutely critical to us that such an appointee is skilled and knowledgeable in the ways that policy decisions across the spectrum impact and affect the disability community.
Additionally, we are concerned that there has been little outreach to the disability community to seek our opinions on potential candidates throughout the new Administration. There are many individuals with disabilities that have the expertise and background not only to fill positions related to disability but other areas of government as well — from environment and energy to defense and foreign policy.
We stand ready to support the policy changes President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden outlined in their Plan to Empower Americans with Disabilities. The participation of qualified people with disabilities in shaping policy is critical to the success of the programs and services that enhance our lives. We will continue to provide input and advice from our community leaders with disabilities. We look forward to implementing these initiatives that will enable people with disabilities to participate in and contribute to society.
Many other organizations in our loose coalition share our sentiments expressed in this letter but, due to the Holidays, have not signed on. We are sure you will be hearing from them on this matter as well.
Thank you for your leadership. We look forward to working together to achieve these goals. Please do not hesitate to contact Deb Cotter of the NCIL Policy staff by phone: (202) 207-0334 or email: Deb@ncil.org if we can be of any assistance.
American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)
National Coalition of Mental Health Consumer/Survivor Organizations (MCMHC/SO)
National Council on Independent Living (NCIL)
National Spinal Cord Injury Association (NSCIA)
Northeast Independent Living Program (NILP)