Chicago, July 1, 2014
Senator Tom Harkin was one of the Easter Seals 2014 Outstanding Advocate Award winners announced at the organization’s recent Advocacy Summit in Washington DC. Easter Seals created its Outstanding Advocate Awards to honor public officials—elected and appointed—for their work to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities, and for all. Among the nominees is the man considered to be the father of the Emancipation Proclamation for people with disabilities, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA).
Tom Harkin dedicated his 40-year tenure as senator of Iowa to promoting and protecting equality for individuals with disabilities. During his career, he has been involved with almost every significant piece of legislation affecting people with disabilities and is considered to be the national leader in disability policy. Most notably, he was the primary author of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in 1990. The act created civil rights protections for 56 million people with disabilities.
“Even though our country has led the world in establishing civil rights protections for people with disabilities and requiring improvements in accessibility, we must be part of the international discussion as disability policy is implemented around the globe,” said Harkin. “Our efforts can make the goals of the ADA – equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency – a reality for all one billion people with disabilities around the world.” Harkin urged all Senators to join him in ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a treaty that is modeled after the ADA.
In addition to ADA, Harkin passed legislation supporting a variety of initiatives to improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities. He led efforts to increase access to assistive technology, shaped the legislation that requires all television sets to have closed captioning, and was instrumental in the development of the National Institute on Deafness and Communications Disorders at the National Institutes on Health. Most recently, he introduced legislation to end the use of dangerous seclusion and restraints on students in schools in the Keeping All Students Safe Act.
Easter Seals 2014 Outstanding Advocate Award
In 1991, Easter Seals awarded its first Outstanding Advocate Award to recognize sustained efforts by elected and appointed officials that help forward Easter Seals’ mission to serve people with disabilities. Every honoree has gone the extra mile in making a difference for Americans with disabilities. Each believes that people with disabilities deserve a quality education, opportunities for employment, and access to health care, affordable housing, transportation and polling places.
About Easter Seals
Easter Seals is the leading non-profit provider of services for individuals with autism, developmental disabilities, physical disabilities and other special needs. For more than 90 years, Easter Seals has been offering help and hope to children and adults living with disabilities, and to the families who love them. Through therapy, training, education and support services, Easter Seals creates life-changing solutions so that people with disabilities can live, learn, work and play. Support children and adults with disabilities at www.easterseals.com.