Concord, N.H., Feb. 8 – Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is calling for employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
“People with disabilities – out of sight, out of mind,” Clinton said during a town hall with New England College students in Henniker, New Hampshire on Saturday when listing the groups of people for which she says she is fighting.
“You know, I meet folks who come to my events who stand up and they talk to me – they are an adult with Autism, they are in a wheelchair. And they want to work. They want to contribute. What are we going to do?”
Fifty-six million Americans have a disability, seventy percent of whom are unemployed – though many want to work. According to Clinton’s response in the #PwDsVote 2016 Campaign Questionnaire, her plan to help people with Autism and other disabilities get to work include a “post-graduation transition plan” with a “public-private partnership with employers designed to build on proven success stories like Project SEARCH and get more employers invested in providing competitive employment opportunities” for people with disabilities.
In addition, she said she “will adopt new legislation to fund employment demonstration grants for individuals with autism and other disabilities” and “push for passage of the bipartisan Transition to Independence Act, which would establish programs in 10 states focused on helping people with disabilities expand employment opportunities and build on the recently-enacted Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).”
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.
Clinton has a long history of working with people with disabilities, starting with her work with the Children’s Defense Fund in the 1970’s. Recently her campaign has made disability outreach a higher priority and the addition of including people with disabilities in Clinton’s stump speech is evidence of this.
As all of the presidential candidates vie for their parties’ nomination, reaching out to the disability community can meant the difference between winning or not. Clinton recounted a story of a young man supporting her because she “started talking about addition and you kept talking about it.” Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, drug addiction is considered a disability.
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.