Des Moines, Jan. 3 – Sen. Bernie Sanders called for an end to all forms of discrimination including against people who may have a disability.
“Either we’re going to end bigotry and discrimination or we’re not,” he said during a town hall in Knoxville, IA, on Dec. 31. “I believe we must do everything that we can to end all forms of bigotry and all forms of discrimination. And that is discrimination against people whose skin may be different than ours or the nation they were born in, or they may or may not have a disability.”
When asked about the 70 percent of the 56 million Americans who are looking for employment but are unable to find some, the presidential hopeful said it’s “terribly important” for everybody to earn a good living.
“It also has a lot to do with self worth and the idea that people can be a part of a productive economy. Go to work, produce something, leave the day feeling proud of what they have done. All people have that right whether they have a disability or not.”
At the town hall on the last day of the year, the Sanders campaign was walking the walk when it comes to inclusion for people with disabilities. Held in an ADA-compliant location, the campaign also had an ASL interpreter for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.
Throughout the campaign season, Sanders has discussed the importance of employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
“I have worked with the disability community in my own state,” he said in Davenport, IA in May. “People with disabilities must have all of the opportunities possible open to them from an educational point of view and from an employment point of view.”
In early July, the Senator said, “Work is part of what being human is about. We have to establish a full employment program for all people, with disabilities and without disabilities.”
And later that month, Sanders said to the National Council on Independent Living rally, “in the year 2015, it is unacceptable that over 80 percent of adults with disabilities are unemployed… People need work. They need jobs.”
Yet the presidential hopeful, like his fellow contenders for president, has yet to outline any specific policies to make this happen.
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.
Introducing policies that create opportunities for employing people with disabilities is not a conservative issue or liberal issue; it is a human issue, and it affects a large portion of the electorate in the United States. The top issue in the disability community is jobs. Government policies that help people with disabilities get and keep jobs are a win-win because they allow people with disabilities the dignity and financial benefits of work and also grow our economy and save taxpayer money.