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Nearly 8 in 10 People with Disabilities are Unemployed

Launch of Calls Attention to Perez’s Strong Record

Disability Groups Send Letter to US Senators; People with Disabilities are Contacting Senators to Ask for Support


AAPD announced the launch of a new website -- -- and a new national grassroots campaign in the run-up to the April 18 hearing of the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to consider the nomination of Tom Perez to be Secretary of the Department of Labor. In addition to the online campaign, AAPD is sending a letter from 66 disability rights organizations to US Senators urging Perez’s swift confirmation.  The letter and the online campaign will call attention to Perez’s decades-long strong record on disability issues, which makes him one of the most well-informed and experienced cabinet-level nominees from the disability community’s perspective in many years.

At a time when nearly 8 in 10 people with disabilities are unemployed, having a leader at the helm of the Department of Labor with such a deep understanding of the dire employment situation for people with disabilities is an important part of the Administration’s ongoing efforts to create jobs and grow the middle class. 

“For too long, people with disabilities seeking employment have faced unnecessary and often insurmountable barriers, keeping them out of the middle class and keeping the American Dream out of reach,” said Mark Perriello, President & CEO of AAPD. “Having a Labor Secretary who understands the employment challenges for people with disabilities – and who has experience finding solutions – will help advance the unfinished business that began with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act back in 1990.”

The letter may be downloaded here.

The full text of the letter to US Senators is below:


April 12, 2013


The Honorable Tom Harkin


Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

731 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510


The Honorable Lamar Alexander

Ranking Member

Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

455 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510


Dear Chairman Harkin and Ranking Member Alexander:

On behalf of all the undersigned disability rights organizations, we write to urge you to vote to confirm Thomas Perez as the next Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor. Mr. Perez is highly qualified to serve as Secretary of Labor, having a long record of working with employees, job seekers, and employers to promote greater employment opportunities for all Americans.  In particular, his work to advance opportunities for people with disabilities gives us confidence that he will be an effective Labor Secretary.

In the twenty-three years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a top priority of the disability rights movement has been making sure that the law is properly enforced. In that time, few have played a greater role in advancing that cause than Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez. During his time leading the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, Mr. Perez has earned his reputation as an extraordinary champion of people with disabilities by enforcing the law to ensure that every American has an equal opportunity to succeed.

The Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision and Mr. Perez’s enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act have created new opportunities for many thousands of people with disabilities to live in their own homes and communities.  These efforts have fundamentally changed the lives of people with disabilities, allowing many to participate as full members of society for the first time.

Under Mr. Perez’s leadership, the Justice Department also issued important regulations implementing the ADA -- the first comprehensive update since the original regulations were promulgated in 1991 -- as well as four sets of proposed regulations implementing various aspects of the ADA. In addition, Mr. Perez’s efforts to ensure people with disabilities have equal access to polling locations, along with his efforts to prevent states from instituting regressive voter laws, have expanded access to the vote for Americans with disabilities nationwide.

Tom Perez has been one of the most important leaders of our time for improving the lives of people with disabilities.  We strongly support his swift confirmation as Secretary of Labor.



Access Alaska

Access Living


Albany Advocacy Resource Center, Inc. (ARC)

American Counseling Association

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

American Therapeutic Recreation Association


Arc of the United States

Arizona Bridge to Independent Living (ABIL)

Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs (ATAP)

Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE)

Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL)

Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

Brain Injury Association of America

Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled (BCID)

Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP

Californians for Cures

Center for Independence of the Disabled of New York

Connecting Arizona Advocates, Inc.

Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. (COPAA)

CTD/Coaltion of Texans with Disabilities

Disability Power & Pride

disABILITY Resource Center

Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund

Disability Rights Legal Center

Disability Rights NC

Easter Seals

Enable America's

Epilepsy Foundation

Epilepsy Foundation of Western Wisconsin

Equip for Equality

Federal Employees with Disabilities

Freedom Center

Illinois Iowa Center for Independent Living


Independent Living Center of the North Shore & Cape Ann, Inc.


Institute for Educational Leadership

Little People of America

Maryland Disability Law Center

Mental Health America 

National Alliance on Mental Illness

National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities

National Center for Environmental Health Strategies

National Center for Learning Disabilities

National Consumers League

National Council on Independent Living

National Disability Rights Network

National Down Syndrome Congress

National Federation of the Blind

National Health Law Program

National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities (NOND)

Parent to Parent USA

People First of Ohio

Prairie Independent Living Resource Center, Inc.

Services for Independent Living, Inc. (SIL)

Southeast Alaska Independent Living

Southwest Center for Independent Living

Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc.

The Advocacy Institute

United Spinal Association


Virginia Association of Centers for Independent Living

cc: Full United States Senate

Contact: Sydney Ortman


Phone: 202-521-4308

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