Legendary U.S. Senator, who helped write the Americans with Disabilities Act, will headline the event that’s dedicated to improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities.


Alliance Enterprises, Inc. (Alliance) announced today that Senator Tom Harkin will be the headline keynote speaker at the company’s annual getAwareLive! conference. The July 25-26, 2018 event in Atlanta brings together vocational rehabilitation, workforce, technology and business leaders across the nation to work on improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Senator Harkin served as a U.S. Senator representing Iowa for more than 30 years, retiring in 2015 when he established The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement. He co-authored the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the landmark legislation signed into law in 1990 that protected civil rights of millions of Americans with physical and mental disabilities.

The Harkin Institute recently hosted The Harkin Summit, centered on accelerating employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The unemployment rate for adult Americans who want to work is 60%, a condition Senator Harkin calls “a blot on our national character.”

“Our goal is to double the labor force participation rate of people with disabilities around the world over the next 10 years,” Senator Harkin said. “I’m looking forward to working with the vocational rehabilitation professionals, and workforce and technology leaders at getAwareLive! to come up with fresh and bold ideas that will accelerate work opportunities for people with disabilities.”

Alliance’s Aware software was first deployed in 1994 and is now used by 40 state VR agencies, 24 tribal nations, and more than 12,000 VR professionals to help an estimated 1 million disabled persons find and maintain meaningful work each year.

“Everyone realizes Senator Harkin’s legendary impact on improving opportunities for Americans with disabilities, and we’re thrilled to have him speak at our conference,” said Alliance Enterprises CEO, Chris M. Pieper. “We’re aligned with the Senator in pushing for greater and more meaningful employment opportunities for people with disabilities, and that’s what this conference is about.”

During getAwareLive!, Senator Harkin will announce the second annual Thomas Harkin Americans with Disabilities (THAD) Excellence Award winner. The award recognizes a member of the rehabilitation services community who exemplifies outstanding service to people with disabilities. Registration opened for getAwareLive! in November.