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 Home > News & Policies > February 2003

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 12, 2003

Memorandum for the Secretary of Education, Health and Human Services, Labor, and the Commissioner of Social Security

SUBJECT: Interagency Working Group on Assistive

Technology Mobility Devices

When President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, America opened its door to a new age for people with disabilities. Although much progress has been made since then, significant challenges remain for individuals with disabilities who seek full participation in American society.

My Administration is committed to increasing education and employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. My New Freedom Initiative strives to provide people with disabilities increased opportunities to lead more independent lives by expanding education and job opportunities, and by ensuring that the latest technologies, which often make education and employment possible, are readily available.

Often, individuals with disabilities require assistive technology mobility devices -- such as powered wheelchairs and scooters -- in order to access education, training, and competitive employ-ment. While there are several Federal programs, as well as State and local efforts, that help individuals with disabilities obtain these and other assistive technologies, they are not adequately coordinated. Other Federal programs provide funding of assistive technology mobility devices for medical purposes, but the intent of these programs has always been, and should remain, medical rather than educational or vocational.

Consistent with my interest in improving the coordination of the Federal programs that help provide individuals with assistive technology mobility devices, I hereby direct the following:

Section 1. Establishment of the Interagency Working Group on Assistive Technology Mobility Devices. (a) There is hereby established, within the Department of Education for adminis-trative purposes, the "Interagency Working Group on Assistive Technology Mobility Devices" (Working Group). The Working Group shall consist exclusively of:

(i) the Secretary of Education, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Labor, and the Commissioner of Social Security; and

(ii) such other Federal officials as the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy from time to time, on my behalf, may designate.

(b) The Secretary of Education shall serve as Chairman of the Working Group. The Chairman shall convene and preside at any meetings of the Working Group, determine its agenda, direct its work, and, as appropriate to particular subject matters, establish and direct subgroups of the Working Group, which shall consist exclusively of Working Group members.

(c) A member of the Working Group may designate, to perform the Working Group or Working Group subgroup functions of the member, any person who is part of the members agency and who is an officer appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, or a member of the Senior Executive Service.

Sec. 2. Functions of the Working Group. The Working Group shall: (a) identify existing Federal Government programs and resources that are designed to help individuals with disabilities obtain the assistive technology mobility devices that they need for education and employment; and (b) work with State, local, and tribal governments, as appropriate, to identify State, local, and tribal programs that are designed to help individuals with disabilities obtain assistive technology mobility devices for education and employment. The Secretary of Education shall take the lead in coordinating these efforts.

Sec. 3. Report. In performing its functions the Working Group shall present to me, through the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, a report not later than 180 days from the date of this memorandum. The report shall include the specific steps that each of the agencies represented on the Working Group will take to: (a) improve coordination among their existing programs; (b) train vocational rehabilitation counselors, other service providers, and individuals with disabilities, as provided by law; and (c) inform individuals with disabilities about these oppor-tunities. The report shall also include a description of how individuals with disabilities can pool funding from existing resources to obtain the assistive technology mobility devices that they need to pursue their educational and employment goals.

Sec. 4. Termination. The Working Group shall terminate 30 days after the date of the submission of the report as described in section 3 of this memorandum.

Sec. 5. General. (a) Agencies shall assist the Working Group and provide information to the Working Group consistent with applicable law as may be necessary to carry out the functions of the Working Group. To the extent permitted by law, the Department of Education shall provide funding and administrative support for the Working Group.

(b) As used in this memorandum, the term "agency" means an executive department or agency of the Federal Government.

(c) Nothing in this memorandum shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budget, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(d) This memorandum is intended only to improve the internal management of the Federal Government and is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity by a party against the United States, its departments, agencies, instrumentalities or entities, its officers or employees, or any other person.


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