Senator Tom Harkin fought for disability rights for 40 years in congress, and he’s continuing to push the cause forward in retirement with The Harkin Institute. Leading into his getAwareLive keynote, the Senator says the conference is a great opportunity to “amplify the message, get some new ideas and continue to move the needle forward on employment for persons with disabilities.”
Check out the Senator Harkin’s video, a preview of his conference keynote:
Hello, I’m Senator Harkin and I’m thrilled to be joining fellow disability rights advocates at this year’s getAwareLive conference in Atlanta. In my 40 years in congress I was honored to play a leadership role in enacting a legislative agenda that advanced the civil and human rights of all persons with disabilities. Over time and now in my retirement I am increasingly focused in one area and that is helping people with disabilities participate fully in their communities by working in the competitive labor market. At the last Harkin Summit in D.C. I challenged the participants to a goal and that is in the next 10 years to double the labor force participation rate of people with disabilities.
We’re talking about competitive integrated employment, not dead end sub-minimum wage jobs. I know with your help we can make it a reality. Events like the getAwarelive conference will give us great opportunities to share ideas, build partnerships and set in motion plans that will help us meet this important goal.
So, I look forward to joining fellow advocates, professionals, business leaders to discuss the importance of a coordinated effort between vocational rehabilitation, workforce development, new technologies, and, of course, the business community to form a concerted effort to really break down the barriers and get more persons with disabilities, especially young people, into competitive, integrated employment.
I’m also excited to hear from someone who I have great admiration for, Jessica Cox (another keynote speaker at getAwareLive. If you’ve never met or heard from Jessica Cox you’re in for a real treat. She’s amazing.
We’re starting to see more companies recognize the value of hiring persons with disabilities as some of the best employees they’ve ever hired. We just really need to move ahead aggressively in this area. So, through this event in July we can amplify the message, get some new ideas and continue to move the needle forward on employment for persons with disabilities in competitive, integrated employment.
I look forward to seeing you in Atlanta in July.