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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Disabilities and the Commemoration of the March on Washington

The Chair of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), Fred Maahs, will speak at the Closing Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary March on Washington on Wednesday, August 28, 2013. Maahs is scheduled to speak prior to President Barack Obama who takes the podium at 3PM EST, which is the exact time that Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his I Have a Dream speech.
“For many millions of people with disabilities, the American dream remains out of reach,” said Fred Maahs, Chair of AAPD. “We have seen a lot of progress, but, like all civil rights movements, the disability rights movement has much more to do.”
Maahs is referring to staggering challenges in employment, healthcare, technology and education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for Americans with disabilities is nearly double the rate compared to Americans without disabilities (14.7% v. 7.4% as of July, 2013). Further, 8 out of 10 Americans with disabilities are out of the workforce. Today in the United States, hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities earn far less than minimum wage in segregated work. Finally, 85 percent of young people with disabilities report incidents of bullying.
In addition, Maahs will call on Americans to support the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) or Disability Treaty. The Disability Treaty is in the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), historic bipartisan legislation passed in 1990 that advanced and recognized the rights of Americans with disabilities. The Disability Treaty would level the playing field for U.S. businesses working abroad and increase access for U.S. citizens with disabilities when traveling overseas.
“Our disability rights movement is a civil rights movement grounded in the very American principles of freedom and self-determination,” said Mark Perriello, the President and CEO of AAPD. “Like more and more Americans, Maahs knows that disability rights are civil rights and everyone at AAPD is proud that he is participating in the Closing Commemoration.”
Maahs is the current Director, National Community Partnerships at Comcast, and Vice President of the Comcast Foundation. AAPD and Comcast partnered to broadcast the first-ever national anti-bullying public service announcement for people with disabilities.
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