Washington, Sept. 13 – Hillary Clinton is the first Democratic candidate to include a page on her website dedicated to people with disabilities.
Highlighting disability rights as one of the campaign’s issues, the site says, “We must continue to expand opportunities for all Americans.”
Making websites accessible for all people is not a difficult process, especially for presidential campaigns whose goal is to reach as many voters as possible. The Clinton campaign now joins the Jeb Bush campaign in ensuring that their videos have captions.
America has 56 million people with disabilities. 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.
Clinton has come under scrutiny for not including people with disabilities in her announcement video, and her famed van momentarily stopping in a handicap parking spot in Council Bluffs, Iowa in April. Yet she has been a longtime supporter of epilepsy research and her first job after law school was with the Children’s Defense Fund where she fought for education of children with disabilities.
“Hillary has spent her life fighting for the rights of Americans with disabilities,” her campaign website states. The site describes Clinton’s job at the Children’s Defense Fund and her efforts as Secretary of State to get the U.S. to join the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
“Now, 25 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Hillary recognizes that there is still much work to do, including improving access to meaningful and gainful employment for people with disabilities,” the site states. “Too many Americans with disabilities continue to be left out of the workforce, and for those who are employed, too many are in under-stimulating jobs that don’t fully allow them to use their talents.”
Fully one-in-five Americans have a disability and polls show that most of them want to work. Yet 70 percent of working-age Americans with disabilities are outside of the workforce. This leads to poverty and costs taxpayers billions of dollars in disability benefits. Fulfilling employment with real wages for people with disabilities is a nonpartisan issue and it’s necessary for all the presidential candidates to talk about this important topic.
“We should acknowledge how the disabilities community has played such an important role in changing things for the better in our country,” Clinton recently said in Ames, Iowa while marking the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
While the official Sanders campaign website does not yet have a page dedicated to disability issues, a website run by volunteers, Feel the Bern, has a page dedicated to these issues – varying from ensuring “comprehensive health care and benefits” for veterans to employment for people with disabilities.
RespectAbility is hoping all candidates – both Democrats and Republicans – will have a page dedicated to disability issues on their websites.