Washington, July 31 – In celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), former Gov. Jeb Bush stressed the need to empower people with disabilities. Focusing his efforts on students and people entering the workforce, Bush touted his record as governor of Florida to illustrate his plans if he were to win the presidency.
“Florida has a significant number of citizens who live, learn and work with disabilities, and it is my fundamental belief that they should be given opportunities to do so with support, respect and dignity,” Bush wrote in The Journal by IJReview. “During my eight years in office, I worked to create policies and programs so that these citizens were no longer overlooked and they could enjoy greater independence and choice over the services they receive.”
During his governorship, Bush created the state’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities to consolidate the state’s programs and sub-departments to ensure accountability.
The Republican presidential candidate released a video Empowering Individuals with Disabilities featuring Emily Gonzalez-Abreu and her daughter Angie who has spina bifida. Gonzalez-Abreu emailed the governor for assistance when Angie was a baby and Bush intervened with the hospital to ensure that Angie had a much-needed nurse. Not only is Bush promoting the empowerment of people with disabilities as a personal cause, he is walking the walk by ensuring the video also has captions, making the video accessible to people who need them.
Yet Bush stressed that the work is not done.
“It’s time we promote continued progress for Americans living with disabilities,” Bush wrote in The Journal by IJReview. “I believe as a society we must work on behalf of those who are most vulnerable, and serve those who cannot always help themselves.”
Bush called on for better practices for business owners to hire people with disabilities. “These individuals have talents and skills to offer, and with the right effort to integrate them into daily operations, they can make a significant contribution to a growing business,” Bush wrote. “As more businesses see how much value is created by people with disabilities, the more we will achieve on behalf of all Americans through greater growth, earned success and shared prosperity.”
People with disabilities make up the largest minority group in America. This constituency has the power to swing an election, and the former governor is reaching out to them on a consistent basis.
In an early campaign video, Bush highlighted a young woman with autism who is unable to speak or walk, bringing attention to an important group of Americans. Addressing the Faith and Freedom Coalition in June, Bush said “we need to put the most vulnerable in our society first – front of the line – because they’re of as much value as everybody else.”
“We’ve seen 25 years of progress – but we can’t ignore all the things that still have to be done,” Bush wrote in the IJR piece. “I intend to do everything I can to continue empowering individuals with disabilities.”