Encouraging the Ability in Disability
Allison H. Parker, General Counsel, Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
Sara Hart Weir, President and CEO, National Down Syndrome Society
Kayla McKeon, Manager of Grassroots Advocacy, National Down Syndrome Society
Dr. Sheryl Lazarus, Director, The TIES Center
John Cronin, Co-Founder, John's Crazy Socks
Mark Cronin, Co-Founder and President, John's Crazy Socks
Fifty-seven million Americans are living with disabilities, 400,000 of them with Down Syndrome. Almost three decades ago President Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which provides individuals with disabilities access to the same employment opportunities and benefits available to people without disabilities; encourages employers to make reasonable accommodations; requires state and local governments to make all services and programs available to individuals with disabilities; prohibits places of public accommodation from discriminating against individuals with disabilities; and directs businesses to make reasonable modifications when serving individuals with disabilities. In so doing, the ADA has broken down many barriers blocking the full participation of individuals with disabilities in their communities and economies across the United States.
While the United States has an exemplary system of integration, empowerment, and protection from discrimination, individuals with intellectual disabilities like Down Syndrome have recommended numerous further improvements to U.S. law. This briefing will explore best practices developed federally and locally in the United States to empower and integrate individuals with intellectual disabilities and discuss legal changes that will enable individuals with intellectual disabilities to reach their full potential.