Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Updating Obama's campaign promises on disability

President Barack Obama signs an executive order to increase federal employment of people with disabilities on the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilites Act on July 26, 2010.
President Barack Obama signs an executive order to increase federal employment of people with disabilities on the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilites Act on July 26, 2010.

July 26, 2010, marked the 20th anniversary of the signing of the American with Disabilities Act. President George H.W. Bush signed it into law in 1990 to prohibit discrimination and ensure equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation.

We thought it would be a good time to review how Obama is doing with a few of his campaign promises on disability.

First, we looked into Obama's promise to reinstate an executive order to hire an additional 100,000 federal employees with disabilities within five years. As part of that, he promised to designate a White House official to assure that all federal departments and agencies meet the mandate. A similar directive was signed by President Bill Clinton in July 2000, but even ten years later, individuals with targeted disabilities still represent less than 1 percent of the federal workforce. Obama signed a new order on July 26, 2010, so we rated the pledge Promise Kept.

We also took a second look at Obama's promise to sign the the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and to urge the U.S. Senate to ratify the Convention expeditiously. Susan Rice, Obama's ambassador to the United Nations, signed the convention at UN headquarters in New York on July 30, 2009. Disability group advocates told us, however, that they don't expect the Senate to start considering the Convention anytime soon, so we changed the rating from Promise Kept to Stalled.