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Chairman Remarks

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Federal Communications Commission
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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

December 1, 1999
Audrey Spivack (202) 418-0512
TTY (202) 418-2555


Washington, D.C. -- FCC Chairman Kennard proudly accepted the "Outstanding Leadership Award," from a coalition of United Nations' partners at the United Nations International Day of Disabled Persons, at the Word Bank, Washington, D.C. Excerpts from his speech are as follows:

"Thank you for this generous award, and to my many partners in the fight for disability rights. This award is a tribute to my staff at the FCC, which has made disabilities issues a priority. Above all, it is a tribute to people with disabilities who have served as inspiration for me and others in the struggle for equal access.

As we enter the last month of the twentieth century, I find myself thinking more about the people and themes that have helped define the century we're about to leave. And one of the things I've noticed is how often individual Americans have made a difference in their communities--how ordinary people standing up for their beliefs, holding their ground, can blaze a trail for the rest of the nation.

I see the power of individuals at work in virtually every reform movement of the century, from the struggle for women's suffrage in the early 1900s to the civil rights movement of the 1960s. But nowhere is this power more apparent than in the struggle for disability rights.

Americans concerned about disability issues took a once marginal public issue and placed it at the fore of the national agenda. Attitudes have been altered and eyes have been opened to an issue many had never heard of.

Americans with disabilities inspired passage of the Telecommunications Act (Section 255)--the ADA for the Information Age, a law that is having a major impact on our economy and our culture.

Recently, the FCC established a new Office for Disability Rights. The office will oversee the FCC's policies and proceedings on disability access issues. It will serve as a sounding board for people with disabilities and help to enforce the FCC's rules on disability access."