Washington, Feb. 15 – RespectAbility’s James Trout has been on the campaign trail for several months asking candidates on both sides of the aisle a variety of questions on disability topics. Some candidates have recognized Trout and commended him for his efforts.
Recently, Trout asked Kasich about his policy proposal to move control of education from the federal to the state level and how Kasich would ensure that special education is fully funded in states where special education is not the governor’s priority.
“As a person with Asperger’s syndrome who has lived in five different states, I can assure you that not all districts and not all states are created equal when it comes to funding and dealing with special education just in general,” Trout added.
Before answering, Kasich applauded Trout for asking the question.
“Now here’s a guy with Asperger’s syndrome taking that microphone and talking to all the people in this room,” Kasich said before embracing Trout in Concord, New Hampshire last week.
Kasich then addressed the question, describing four buckets of education – one of which would be special education – that he would keep under federal funding.
“I don’t know anybody – any Republican or any Democrat – that doesn’t think that special education programs are important to give people an opportunity to rise,” Kasich said. “One of [the buckets] will make sure we don’t dismantle the resources of special education.”
As Liv Golden reported, “Kasich took Trout seriously and responded with sincerity, but neglected to mention any specific way to improve the lives and success rates of people with disabilities.”
Many candidates on both sides of the aisle have started talking about people with disabilities in a general sense but few have gone into specifics on the trail. Kasich, for example, has outlined specific plans in his response to the #PwDsVote 2016 Campaign Questionnaire but rarely addresses these issues unprompted.
As all of the presidential candidates vie for their parties’ nomination, reaching out to the disability community can mean the difference between winning or not. More than 50 percent of Americans report having a family member or close friend with a disability. Fifty-two percent of Democrats report that they or a loved one have a disability, and for Republicans, a smaller number of 44 percent report they have a disability. Surprisingly, Independents have the largest number of voters who say they have a disability, with 58 percent saying yes. This shows that swing voters with disabilities and their families are up for grabs.