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  • Technology has given us incredible new tools to communicate with friends, family, and colleagues, and all Americans should enjoy these benefits — including, and especially, those with disabilities.


    For those with hearing or speech impairments, digital video and other tools have helped these communities stay connected and working, rather than isolated. So, as the White House celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, we’re announcing some new steps to help the government stay accessible to all Americans using the latest technology. 

    We are pleased to announce that two agencies that routinely interface with the disabilities community — the U.S. Census Bureau and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) — will soon be taking up direct video calling technology to allow Deaf citizens to communicate directly with American Sign Language (ASL)-fluent call operators there. This work responds to the President’s 2011 executive order calling upon agencies to use technology to improve customer service, and is another step in the right direction.

  • President Barack Obama signs S. 517, Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act

    President Barack Obama signs S. 517, Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, in the Oval Office, Aug. 1, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    The Right to Petition is a Constitutional Right

    In its final clause, the First Amendment of the Constitution protects the right of the American people “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” It’s right up there along religion, speech, press, and assembly.

    Yet while it guarantees the right to petition, the First Amendment doesn’t explain how to petition or what the government owes in response. Over the years, many people have petitioned the government by sending written letters to the White House and Congress, asking for assistance and expressing grievances on a variety of issues. For example, in 1897, Native Hawaiians who petitioned Congress were successful in temporarily blocking the annexation of the Hawaiian Islands. And in 1874, suffragette Susan B. Anthony petitioned Congress to remit a fine imposed on her after she was arrested for casting a vote in the 1872 election in Rochester, New York.

  • What has health reform meant to this country? That's a question that millions of Americans answer every day. Susan is one of them. Read more of their stories here.


    "Everyone should be free to study their passions and pursue goals, chronic illness or not."


    Susan F. from Grover Beach, California, wrote the President last November to tell him how she's benefited from the Affordable Care Act.

  • “My administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in government.”

    —   President Barack Obama


    Since we launched We the People in 2011, millions of Americans have engaged with their government on the issues that matter to them. This groundbreaking online platform has made petitioning the government, a First Amendment right, more accessible than ever. Over the past few years, the Obama administration has taken a stance on a number of causes that citizens really care about and used the We the People petition platform to voice their concerns. Check out We the People -- where you can create or sign petitions -- here

    Today, the White House released responses to 20 outstanding We the People petitions. We're recommitting to the platform in a big way, integrating with Change.org to reach even more Americans and guaranteeing that you'll hear from us within 60 days after the petition you signed has gathered the required signatures.

    As we gear up for this new phase, take a look back at responses from the last four years.

    1. The President Records a Special Message for a Petition on Reducing Gun Violence

  • Haben Girma, a deafblind lawyer, introduced the President at a White House reception last week to mark the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

    This afternoon, she sent the following message to the White House email list, in which she shares her personal story and explains how the ADA is helping Americans with disabilities continue to tear down barriers.

    Didn't get the email? Sign up for email updates here.


    I recently had the honor of introducing President Obama at a White House reception commemorating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

    The President shared a moving story of how, in the years before Congress passed the ADA, his father-in-law -- who had multiple sclerosis -- would sometimes hold himself back because he didn't want his disability to inconvenience others. With that story, President Obama reminded Americans that "We've got to tear down barriers externally, but we also have to tear down barriers internally."

    As someone who has struggled against attitudinal barriers, I loved hearing our President encourage the world to view access for people with disabilities as a civil and human right.

  • What has health reform meant to this country? That's a question that millions of Americans answer every day. Christopher is one of them. Read more of their stories here.


    "I am writing to thank you, I believe, for my life."


    Last September, Christopher C. from Batesville, Arkansas was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

    Before the Affordable Care Act, Christopher, who worked for a small business, had no health insurance coverage. Fortunately, because of the protections provided by the ACA, he was able to obtain insurance that kept him out of financial ruin. Since the beginning of 2015, he has been on Medicaid, which has provided him quality coverage as he continued his treatment.

  • This week President Obama is traveling in Kenya and Ethiopia to attend the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit and to meet with leaders from government, business, and civil society. The trip is reinforcing the U.S. commitment to expanding economic growth and trade, strengthening democracy on a global scale, and investing in the next generation of African leaders.

    Follow along for highlights from the President's trip.

  • President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, July 23, 2015.

    President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, July 23, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon).

    In this week's address, the President spoke to the progress we have made in making our financial system stronger, safer, and more fair in the years since financial crisis. Five years ago this week our country enacted the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, rules that have substantially reduced recklessness and abuse in our financial system that predated the crisis.  As a result of Wall Street reform, our banks are less reliant on unstable funding and less likely to engage in risky behavior, the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau works to protect American consumers, and our financial system is significantly better-regulated.  Dodd-Frank is working, and the President emphasized that he will continue to fight any challenges to the law and veto any effort to unravel the new rules governing Wall Street.

    Transcript | mp4 | mp3

  • Watch on YouTube

    Yesterday, the First Lady welcomed 140 college-bound students to the White House for the Reach Higher "Beating the Odds" Summit.

    These young people represented a wide range of communities -- urban, rural, foster, homeless, immigrant, special needs, and more. All of them have overcome great odds to go to college, and many are even first in their family to pursue further education after high school.

  • Today, President Obama visits Kenya — the 50th country he has visited during his Administration. It’s also my 50th country traveling with the President.

    To mark the occasion, as I did when the President visited his 50th state, I chose one photograph from each country that we’ve visited.

    Traveling abroad with the President is very different.

    Often times, I am at the mercy of the host country for access. Some countries are more accommodating to me than others. I am lucky to have counterpart official photographers in many countries who are extremely helpful to me in this regard. I of course try to return the help to them when they visit the White House with their head of state.

    We’re also rarely in any one country for more than a couple of days, which gives us only a partial glimpse of each place. And because of security, the sites we are able to visit are often limited too.

    All that said, we’ve had the incredible opportunity to visit the Pyramids in Egypt, Stonehenge in the United Kingdom, the Great Wall in China, Petra in Jordan, and the Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar (Burma). (So I really shouldn’t complain too much.)

    I hope you enjoy this gallery. And stay tuned — we’ll be adding a photograph from Kenya and additionally, Ethiopia, following his visit next week.


    Afghanistan, 2012

    Boarding Air Force One at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Small Business Administration's blog. See the original post here.

    This week, I will join President Obama in Nairobi, Kenya, for the sixth-annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit. GES 2015 will shine a spotlight on the extraordinary potential of entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond.

    Five of the world’s 10-fastest growing economies are African. Innovation hubs have sprung up in Nairobi, Cape Town, and Lagos. A new generation of upstart entrepreneurs has formed tightly knit communities committed to creating African-based solutions to the region’s challenges.

    Today, Nairobi is the site of major African headquarters for Google, Microsoft and IBM and has earned itself the nickname “Silicone Savannah” for the innovative ecosystem that has taken root. But the region still faces obstacles. Limited banking options make it difficult for entrepreneurs to access affordable capital. Societal barriers make it difficult for young and female entrepreneurs to access investors.

  • This week, the President visited Steel City and The Big Apple, celebrated the anniversary of the ADA and the signing of AGOA, and hosted a newly minted head of state -- all while a U.S. delegation led by Dr. Biden traveled through Asia.

  • Earlier this week, I watched the live-stream of the White House’s celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Live-streaming is a form of access that allows individuals to experience events, even if they are many miles away from D.C.

    Listening to the President’s remarks and hearing him recognize the members of Congress, advocates, and young leaders -- I wondered what diverse stories they had to tell about how the ADA impacted their lives.

  • Yesterday, President Obama traveled to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to speak at the 116th Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) convention.

  • This afternoon, Denice W. Ross, a Presidential Innovation Fellow, sent the following message to the White House email list. She introduces readers to Demond Fortenberry, a 14-year-old resident of New Orleans who participated in a local coding event last week, where the City of New Orleans previewed four data sets related to policing.

    Keep reading to learn more about the event -- and if you didn't get the email, sign up for email updates here.


    Last week, at a coding event in New Orleans, 14-year-old Demond Fortenberry blew me away with his data-savvy and curiosity.

    At the event, hosted by local nonprofit Operation Spark, the City of New Orleans previewed four policing-related data sets. As the password for viewing the data came up on the screen, I reflexively cracked open my laptop to dive in -- but fortunately, I had the good sense to close it back up. This time, I wanted to experience the unveiling of a new data set from the perspective of a young coder.

    And I'm glad I did.

    I was a little nervous at first about whether this never-before-seen data would catch the attention of Demond and the other young coders. But watching Demond work with the data -- and build a collaborative working relationship with city leadership in the process -- removed any of those fears.

    From incident locations to readouts on the demographics, he recognized what was happening in his community, and he started to ask questions.

    Read the full story here, and pass it on -- and then find out how you can get involved.

    Read the full story here.

    Demond Fortenberry and City of New Orleans CIO Lamar Gardere review police data together with other hackathon participants.

  • Yesterday, Ben Rhodes, the President's Deputy National Security Advisor, sent the following message to the White House list, announcing the launch of @TheIranDeal -- a Twitter account that is dedicated to delivering the facts and answering your questions about the deal and how it enhances American national security. 

    If you didn't get the email, make sure to sign up for email updates here.


    Hey,

    I'm Ben Rhodes, a Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama. For the past few years, I've been working closely with America's negotiating team, which was tasked with finding a way to achieve a diplomatic resolution that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

    Last week, after two years of tough negotiations, our team along with our international partners achieved just that.

    It's a historic deal. It blocks every possible pathway Iran could use to build a bomb while verifying -- through a comprehensive inspections and transparency regime -- that Iran's nuclear program remains exclusively peaceful.

    The deal is called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and it's important that everyone here and around the world understands exactly what's in it and how it'll work.

    That's why we launched @TheIranDeal -- a Twitter account that is dedicated to delivering the facts and answering your questions about the deal and how it enhances American national security. Follow along now.

  • It started with a video.

    Logan, an 11-year-old from Hartford, Michigan, asked his dad to film him confronting his bullies -- reading a series of mean-spirited comments from his YouTube page. His message was simple:


    "I hope that people don't bully other people online anymore, and that this helps."

  • Yesterday, President Obama celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) at the White House.

    In the East Room, President Obama honored those who made the ADA the law of the land – the activists, congressional representatives, and stakeholders who worked tirelessly to ensure that millions of Americans with disabilities had the chance to make their contributions to the world.

  • Five years ago today, President Obama signed the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act into law. (It's commonly called "Dodd-Frank," or simply "Wall Street Reform," and you can read more about what it's doing here.)

    Here are a couple numbers that help show exactly what the law has done these past years.


    $11 billion

    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)—the new cop on the beat created by Wall Street Reform—has provided nearly $11 billion in relief for over 26 million consumers harmed by financial institutions—including a new action announced today.


    $141 billion

    In all, $141 billion has been paid by 14 of the biggest banks for mortgage-related violations in the lead-up to the crisis, including $50 billion in gross consumer relief to distressed homeowners through the National Mortgage Servicing Settlement.


    >$600 billion

    Banks have added more than $600 billion of additional capital, which is money they can lend and which increases resiliency. At the same time, banks have reduced their leverage, making them more stable and less reliant on borrowed money.

  • “Dodd-Frank” is shorthand for the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, whose chief co-sponsors on Capitol Hill were Senator Chris Dodd and Representative Barney Frank. These reforms — that the President signed into law exactly five years ago today — and others the Administration has put in place since the crisis represent the most sweeping set of financial reforms since the Great Depression.

    Why does it matter and why should you care? Let’s take a walk down memory lane.

    (And if you just want a quick breakdown of the numbers behind five years of Wall Street reform, take a look here.)


    1. Remember the CFPB? Wall Street reform created it.

    “CFPB” stands for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: an independent watchdog responsible for writing and enforcing rules to protect you as you borrow and save. And Wall Street reform made it happen.

    Here's why that's a big deal:

    You’d be surprised at exactly what lenders were able to get away with during the housing bubble — including loading up a mortgage with extra costs to jack up their own compensation in the short term before shuffling that loan over to a third party, making it their problem. With these bad incentives, lenders steered borrowers toward bad products they couldn’t afford (even when they qualified for better, lower-cost options), often burying the terms of made-to-explode mortgages in the fine print.

    Dodd-Frank fixed that. Today, lenders have to assess borrowers’ ability to pay a mortgage first. They have to take responsibility for the risks of the loans they make, giving them “skin in the game” to encourage responsible lending. And they will have to present them to the borrowers in clearer, easier-to-understand terms. And the CFPB is keeping all kinds of consumer lenders honest — from credit card companies, to mortgage lenders, to debt collectors, to student loan servicers. Since 2011, the CFPB’s enforcement actions have delivered nearly $11 billion in relief to more than 26 million consumers harmed by illegal practices -- including a new action announced today.

    (Those practices include deceptive marketing, unfair billing, and discriminatory practices by big banks and other financial institutions — and a whole lot more. Learn more about them here.)

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