U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Initiative ~ Executive Order ~ HHS Role ~ News & Additional Resources
Delivering on the Promise:
December 21, 2001
Dear Mr. President:
As one of your first acts in office this year, you unveiled your New Freedom Initiative to carry out your commitment to tear down remaining barriers to equality for the 54 million Americans with disabilities. You acted upon this commitment with Executive Order 13217: Community-Based Alternatives for Individuals with Disabilities, asking federal agencies to work together to identify and address barriers to community integration. And so, before the year's end, I am submitting to you this status report of our efforts to meet your charge, entitled Delivering on the Promise: Preliminary Report of Federal Agencies' Actions to Eliminate Barriers and Promote Community Integration. [complete report = 154K, DOC = 535K]
Your Executive Order provided federal agencies with an opportunity to respond to and build upon your New Freedom Initiative. During the past year, through comprehensive self evaluations and extensive public input, a number of agencies identified barriers in their policies, programs, regulations, and statutes to community integration and developed priorities and action steps to address these barriers. You initially named the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, Education, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, and the Social Security Administration to carry out this vision. Four additional agencies, the Department of Transportation, Veterans Affairs, the Small Business Administration, and the Office of Personnel Management, joined the implementation effort on a voluntary basis. Other agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the National Council on Disability, share responsibility for activities that your Order addresses and also have offered to help implement it and achieve its goals.
This report sets forth a summary of the actions that federal agencies propose to take in the following key areas: health care structure and financing; housing; personal assistance, direct care services and community workers; caregiver and family support; transportation; employment; education; access to technology; accountability and legal compliance; public awareness, outreach, and partnerships; income supports; gathering, assessment and use of data; and cross-agency collaboration and coordination.
The federal response to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, brought a new sensitivity to the meaning and importance of freedom. It also brought a heightened appreciation of coordination and collaboration among federal agencies, and their state and local counterparts and stakeholders and the power of such combined efforts. This report was drafted in this spirt. It is based on two premises. First, through collaboration, more can be achieved. Second, through demonstrations and continued efforts, positive effects can be illustrated and then replicated to give persons with disabilities the freedom to live as independently as possible.
The vision for change embodied in your New Freedom Initiative and Executive Order is a broad one. Individuals with disabilities will have access to health care that recognizes and provides supports and services that promote independence and productivity. Individuals with disabilities will have a place to live in their community among family and friends. Individuals with disabilities will have jobs, accessible transportation, and enhanced, accessible technology. Individuals with disabilities will benefit from education along with peers without disabilities. The priorities and actions outlined in this report will move our Nation in the direction of this vision. They also will strengthen and sustain families and expand opportunities for individuals to participate in the full range of community life.
In the near future, we will present you with the individual reports of the agencies involved in carrying out your Executive Order. Together with this Preliminary Report, they represent the initial steps that we believe are necessary to enhanced community integration. But these are just the first steps. We look forward to continued collaboration with federal, state, and local governments, together with people with disabilities, their families, and service providers, to develop additional recommendations to fulfill our charge and the promise of full community integration for all Americans with disabilities.
Perhaps no one believed more strongly in the rights of all Americans with disabilities than Colleen Fraser. Colleen was a well-respected activist for community living. She served as Executive Director of the Progressive Center for Independent Living in Ewing, New Jersey, which is a nonprofit, consumer-controlled, community-based organization providing services and advocacy by and for people with all types of disabilities. Colleen was a member of the heroic group of passengers on board the highjacked flight in rural Pennsylvania on September 11. Less than one week earlier, on September 5, 2001, Colleen traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend and give testimony at the National Listening Session on the New Freedom Initiative and Executive Order 13217. We deliver this report in tribute to Colleen's work and dedication to guaranteeing the freedom for all Americans to choose community living.
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Last revised: October 16, 2003