Public Interest Government Relations Office Activity Update--Fall 2008

PI-GRO Staff Central to Successful Efforts to Restore the Americans with Disabilities Act

President Signs Vital Legislation Amending the Americans with Disabilities Act. APA has been involved in the development and adoption of the ADA since its inception and PI-GRO has continued this commitment to end discrimination for the millions of individuals with disabilities with its strong support for the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. This legislation clarifies the definition of “disability” to restore the original Congressional intent and also addresses the use of ‘mitigating measures’ such as various medications, and behavioral adaptations/accommodations. As a result of strong advocacy efforts, and working in coalition with other groups, PI-GRO was successful in ensuring passage of the legislation. The President signed the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 into law on September 25. This federal recognition that individuals with physical or mental impairments are often excluded from societal participation despite their talents and skills due to discrimination, and/or failure to remove societal and institutional barriers will have a significant impact on the lives of people with and without disabilities for years to come.

APA Members Make Outstanding Contributions at the 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference

PI-GRO staff Secures Representation of APA Members at the Congressional Black Caucus 2008 Annual Legislative Conference (CBC ALC). PI-GRO staff was instrumental in securing the participation of four APA members to serve as experts on several issue forums at the CBC ALC on September 26 and presented critical psychological research and public policy proposals. PI-GRO staff worked closely with the CBC to ensure that mental health disparities and mental health care disparities were adequately and appropriately addressed. PI-GRO staff, Daniel E. Dawes, J.D., and APA members, Hope M. Hill, Ph.D., Robin L. Smith, Ph.D., and Sherry Turner, Ph.D., participated as panelists and discussed various issues impacting the African American community, including the impact of gun violence in the African American community and images of African American women in the media. PI-GRO also secured the participation of APA member Eileen Zurbriggen, Ph.D., Chair of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, at a panel sponsored by the late Representative Stephanie Tubbs-Jones (D-OH) regarding STDs in the African American community. Furthermore, PI-GRO staff distributed 200 copies of APA’s recently released report, “Resilience in African American Children and Adolescents: A Vision for Optimal Development” at this important forum.

Public Interest Governance Members Advocate on Capitol Hill

Public Interest Board and Committees Engage in Advocacy Day. On Thursday, September 18, PI-GRO staff hosted a federal advocacy training followed by Capitol Hill visits for members of the Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest and the Public Interest committees. The advocacy training session provided participants with an overview of the federal legislative process, effective strategies for informing and influencing federal policy makers, and a detailed briefing regarding the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act; the Melanie Blocker-Stokes Mom’s Opportunity to Access Health, Education, Research, and Support for Postpartum Depression Act; the Employment Nondiscrimination Act; and the Lifespan Respite Care Act.