Yesterday Vice President Biden honored what he called the "movement" for the rights of the disabled.
To do so, he visited a premiere institution of that movement, the Special Olympics, being held this year in Boise, Idaho. And as meaningful as the medals he awarded to the figure skaters there were, even more significant was his assurance that the cause would always have an advocate in this White House, announcing Kareem Dale as Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy.
Photo credit: Vice President Joseph Biden announces that Kareem Dale, 3rd from left, has been appointed Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy during the Winter Special Olympics site at Boise State University Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009 in Boise, Idaho. White House photo by Sharon Farmer
Dale, who has been with President Obama for years and is partially blind, said he was "just humbled and honored for the faith the president and vice president have shown in me."
The Vice President praised Dale and emphasized the importance of the position: "He is going to have absolutely direct access to the president. What we’re trying to do is make sure that not only do we deal with getting support for what you’re seeing happening at these Winter Games, but also to make sure that persons with disabilities are in position to also be in the work force, so they don’t have to choose, like many have to do now, between staying in a job that’s a dead-end job that they don’t like, or else leaving a job that they like because it’s the only way to get health care."
He continued, "Look, this is a movement. What started off as an avenue and an outlet and a recognition for athletes has turned into a worldwide movement. This is about to change the attitude, change the attitude of governments, change the attitude of individuals.
"It’s a big deal. I started off in the civil rights movement. This is a civil rights movement. This is a movement to make sure that we guarantee that all peoples in the world have the opportunity to succeed to the degree they are capable."