Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Signing the Handicapped Children's Early Education Assistance Act

September 30, 1968

Secretary Cohen, Members of Congress, my friends:

One way that we can measure our country's total concern for the individual is to measure our efforts to help the least fortunate-the least able.

The bill that we will sign here in the Cabinet Room this afternoon is a testament to our country's concern for 5½ million of these unfortunates--5½ million handicapped children: the blind, the mentally retarded, the crippled, the palsied.

Those children and their plight touch every one of us. And I believe that they have a very special claim on all of our services.

We have learned that more than 50 percent of the handicapped youngsters can have their condition substantially improved-sometimes it can even be cured--if they get help and attention and the medical counseling they need early enough.

Yet, only 2 million of the Nation's 5½ million handicapped children are in reach today of the Nation's special educational programs. We think this bill will help us to change all of that because it will provide from 70 to 100 model educational centers throughout the Nation to help the handicapped.

The centers will give a very important boost to preschool education for the handicapped. And they will be a spur to the local and State agencies to try to improve their programs that they are handling for the handicapped. Most important, these new centers should bring new hope to families and children who very much need and who very much deserve our help.

No one could doubt the determination of these youngsters, not if you have ever seen a crippled child struggle to walk across a room, or seen a little retarded girl trace a picture again and again and again, determined to get it just right.

No one can doubt the value and the wisdom of this law.

It gives me very special pleasure to think about the good that is going to flow from this legislation--to think about the lives that it is going to touch and the lives that it is going to help.

I am glad to sign this bill, and I appreciate very much that Members of Congress, who are present this afternoon, took the leadership in making it possible to have it passed.

Note: The President spoke at 5:19 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Wilbur J. Cohen, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare.

As enacted, the bill (H.R. 18763) is Public Law 90-538 (82 Stat. 901).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Signing the Handicapped Children's Early Education Assistance Act Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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