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PROGRAM CONTACT: PETER BLANCK
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(319) 384-0007; fax (319) 384-0024
e-mail: stephen-pradarelli@uiowa.edu

Release: July 8, 2002

Law professor Blanck to testify before Congress on disability definition

Peter Blanck, Kierscht Professor of Law at the University of Iowa and director of the Law, Health Policy & Disability Center (LHPDC), will testify this week before a congressional subcommittee on the definition of disability under the Social Security Act and its relation to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

People with disabilities have received conflicting messages from the federal government because of the changing definition of disability for purposes of Social Security benefits and for protection under the ADA, says Blanck, considered a leading academic and researcher on disability law. Blanck will testify before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Social Security, Thursday, July 11. The subcommittee hearings focus on the challenges and opportunities facing Social Security’s disability programs. The hearings come in the wake of recent U.S. Supreme Court Decisions interpreting the definition of disability under the ADA.

Blanck states in his testimony that examination of the definition of disability under different governmental laws and policies will help people with disabilities enjoy equal access to and opportunity in job preparation, employment, health care and other areas. But different disability laws and policies have different goals and a single definition of disability is neither recommended nor most effective, says Blanck.

Before the Congressional hearings, on Wednesday July 10, Blanck will be among select disability experts in an advisory panel roundtable discussion on the implementation of the ADA sponsored by the U.S. General Accounting Office in Washington D.C. Blanck comments that research and policy analysis at the LHPDC examines how disabled people are affected by the ADA and other policies in the areas of welfare, educational and health care reform. But additional research is needed on how disability policy has impacted people with disabilities in all aspects of daily life, says Michael Morris, associate director of the LHPDC and director of the center’s program on Workforce Investment and Employment Policy.

The UI Law, Health Policy, and Disability Center is a leader in law, technology, education and research, focused on improving the quality of life for people living with disabilities. Based at the University of Iowa College of Law, with satellite offices in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere, the center concentrates on public policy and law, and their impact on people with disabilities. For more information on this and other center projects, see http://www.its.uiowa.edu/law.