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The Biden Administration Marks Progress for People with Disabilities

October 2, 2023

Today, President Biden hosted a celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act and the 33rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act at the White House.  Actress Selma Blair recalled her years of self-advocacy which led to her MS diagnosis in 2018 and noted that the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act were “vital steps towards fairness but the push towards equity continues.”  

President Biden noted “these laws didn’t bring an end to the work need to do” and noted that last week the National Institutes of Health (NIH) designated people with disabilities as a health disparity population. “The Society applauds this decision,” said Bari Talente, Society Executive Vice President of Advocacy and Healthcare Access. “This designation provides for access to additional funding focused on people with disabilities and also recognizes the need for increased research to better understand how health disparities impact their lives and health outcomes.” 

In its announcement, the NIH noted that, “Designated populations experience significant disparities in their rates of illness, morbidity, mortality and survival, driven by social disadvantage, compared to the health status of the general population”. This designation allows NIH to provide funding for projects that focus on disability health disparities and enhance clinical research by incentivizing the recruitment of both researchers and clinical research participants with disabilities. In concert with the designation, NIH announced such a funding grant to support innovative research that focuses on the health and healthcare of persons living with disabilities and the intersections with race and ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. 

The full NIH press release is available here: 

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. Currently there is no cure. Symptoms vary from person to person and may include disabling fatigue, mobility challenges, cognitive changes, and vision issues. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to minimize disability. Significant progress is being made to achieve a world free of MS.

About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

The National MS Society, founded in 1946, is the global leader of a growing movement dedicated to creating a world free of MS. The Society funds cutting-edge research for a cure, drives change through advocacy and provides programs and services to help people affected by MS live their best lives. Connect to learn more and get involved:, Facebook, X, formerly known as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or 1-800-344-4867.


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