On March 2, 2011 Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee convened the first in a series of hearings to examine how to improve employment opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities.
According to Senator Harkin’s press release:
“So, this hearing is one of the first steps to address this problem of under-participation in the workforce by persons with disabilities. I am asking my colleagues to join with me in working toward the great goals of significantly increasing the employment rate, decreasing the poverty rate, and increasing the quality of life of persons with disabilities. The important work we have done since the landmark passage 35 years ago of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and 20 years ago of the Americans with Disabilities Act, dramatically improved the lives of persons with disabilities. We have addressed education and we have addressed access. Now we must address employment and economic well being.
David Egan, a young man with Down syndrome and a board member of the Down Syndrome Association of Northern Virginia testified about his job as a distribution clerk at a consulting firm in Washington, D.C. In his testimony Mr. Egan stated:
“I am treated like other employees at Booz Allen Hamilton. I receive benefits, time off and a 360 degree assessment like everyone else. I go to compulsory training, all hands meetings, and attend corporate events. The company cares about my personal and professional development. . . .I feel that I am part of the team.”