Washington, D.C., July 30 – “The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed 29 years ago today, ensuring accessibility for all Americans and prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability,” Amy Klobuchar tweeted in commemoration of the 29th anniversary of the ADA on Friday. “It changed millions of lives and we’re a better nation because of it.”
Disability is personal to Klobuchar. When her daughter was born, she could not swallow for the first two years of her life. “Many Minnesotans know a family or a person who has been affected by a disability,” she wrote in 2015. “For a lot of us, this is personal. … [D]uring those two years, I was able to see through the eyes of a parent of a child who was struggling, and I know that, like me, the parents of children with disabilities want what is best for their families — both now and for the years to come.”
Klobuchar also has long publicly admitted that she grew up in a family with alcoholism and addiction, which are recognized as mental health conditions. Her father, who was an immigrant and worked as a print journalist, has had alcoholism his entire adult life. This had a huge impact on Klobuchar’s childhood. At a CNN town hall, she revealed, “I had a lot of times in my life where I was taking the keys away or seeing him drink in the basement, and it was a hard thing.”
Klobuchar was one of 12 of the 20 Democratic candidates debating this week to make any mention of the ADA anniversary on Friday. According to the Census Bureau, more than 56 million Americans live with some form of disability. This can include visible conditions such as spinal cord injuries, visual impairments or hearing loss to people living with invisible disabilities such as learning disabilities, mental health or Autism.
Fully three-quarters of likely voters either have a disability themselves or have a family member, or a close friend with disabilities. Therefore, as the 2020 candidates take to the debate stage, it is in the best interest of every presidential candidate and the citizens of this country for candidates to recognize disability issues at this time.
“Candidates for office ignore the disability community at their peril,” said former U.S. Representative and Dallas Mayor Steve Bartlett. Bartlett, who was a primary author of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, is the board chair of RespectAbility. “People with disabilities are politically active swing voters, and candidates should take note of the important issues they care about.”
RespectAbility is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of their communities. RespectAbility does not rate or endorse candidates. View more coverage of 2020 presidential candidates.