Texas A&M University is opening the door to higher education for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities — making history as the first program of its kind in the state.
The school has vowed to help students with disabilities realize their dreams of becoming Aggies with a four-year post-secondary education program specifically designed to support them, the public university announced in a statement. The Aggie ACHIEVE program will begin this fall, with four students taking courses focused on independent living, career development and field specialization.
“This is not meant to be a place to come get the college experience and then go back to what you were doing before,” said Dr. Carly Gilson, assistant professor of special education in Texas A&M’s College of Education & Human Development. “The intention of this program is to provide a rigorous education, academics and employment experience that will prepare these young adults to go out and work in the community in a job they are interested in that matches their strengths.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 31, 2019) – Recently, the National Organization on Disability (NOD) met with a slate of U.S. Senators to focus attention on the critical issue of employment for people with disabilities. Meetings were held with Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Susan Collins (R-ME), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Robert Portman (R-OH), Mitt Romney (R-UT), and Pat Toomey (R-PA).
The dialogues were led by NOD’s Chairman, Gov. Tom Ridge, and Special Assistant, Charles Edouard Catherine, who voiced support for increasing competitive, integrated employment opportunities for the 33 million working-aged Americans with disabilities. A key priority of these meetings was to raise awareness about the efforts to phase out 14(c) certificates, which allow employers to pay workers with disabilities sub-minimum wage.
Several efforts are underway to end subminimum wages, including the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act, introduced by Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA).
“Increasing the employment of people with disabilities is a bipartisan issue and I greatly appreciate Gov. Ridge’s efforts to secure support for my Transformation to Competitive Employment Act,” Senator Casey stated. “Increasing the number of people with disabilities in competitive integrated employment will not only increase their economic self-sufficiency, it will also make our labor force stronger.”
With the unemployment rate at historically low levels and companies eager for talent, the time is right to ensure Americans with disabilities have a full and equal chance to participate in the workforce.
NOD, along with many allied disability organizations, will continue to pursue legislative and administrative efforts that address the vital issue of ensuring meaningful employment for the disability community.
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