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Release: Feb. 2, 2001

UI's Blanck joins Iowa Senators at rollout of Bush's New Freedom Initiative

IOWA CITY — University of Iowa College of Law professor Peter Blanck joined U.S. Sens. Tom Harkin and Charles Grassley of Iowa at a White House ceremony where President George W. Bush unveiled his New Freedom Initiative. The initiative is aimed at helping Americans with disabilities achieve greater access to assistive technologies, employment opportunities and other services. Bush is expected to present his plan to Congress in the coming days. Bush's plan to further integrate Americans with disabilities into the workforce and his goal of promoting their increased access into daily community life are emphasized by the work at the UI's Law, Health Policy & Disability Center, which Blanck directs.

Blanck said he views the Bush Administration's new legislative proposal as an important step in helping people with disabilities, local state and federal agencies and others in the technology and private sectors achieve Bush's goal of tearing down the remaining barriers to equality that face Americans with disabilities.

The president's proposals include expanding the educational opportunities for Americans with disabilities by increasing funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The Initiative also calls for:

    • Focus on reading in early grades. States that establish a comprehensive reading program students, including those with disabilities, from preschool through second grade will be eligible for grants under President Bush’s Reading First and Early Reading First Initiatives.
    • Promote home ownership for People with Disabilities
    • Increase federal investment in assistive technology research and development
    • Promote private-public partnerships
    • Increase federal funding for low-interest loans to purchase assistive technology. These grants will go to a state agency in collaboration with banks or non-profit groups to guarantee loans and lower rates.

The Law, Health Policy & Disability Center is an emerging leader in technology, education, and research, focused on improving the quality of life for persons with disabilities. For more information about the work of the center, visit