Washington, D.C., June 25 – Two separate bipartisan polls following the last presidential election showed that voters with disabilities and their family and friends voted in big numbers for President Donald Trump. 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 campaign heats up, it is in the best interest of every presidential candidate and the citizens of this country for candidates to recognize disability issues during their campaigns.
“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, a Washington-based nonpartisan nonprofit that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so people with disabilities can participate in all aspects of community. “People with disabilities are politically active swing voters, and candidates should take note of the important issues they care about.”
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.
RespectAbility has reached out to all of the campaigns, offering a briefing and tips on how to connect with voters with disabilities. Eight Democratic presidential campaigns have participated in a briefing on this topic: Biden, Booker, Inslee, Klobuchar, Gillibrand, Sanders, Warren and Yang. All viable campaigns were invited to participate in a general briefing or to schedule a briefing, and all are welcome to request a future briefing.
“It is not only vital for voting booths to be accessible, so too must the entire process be accessible.” said RespectAbility’s president, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi. “The early days of campaigns are when candidates connect to key people and issues that can impact an entire Administration and country. People with disabilities want to be a part of the democratic process, just like anyone else.”
Each campaign has been asked to respond to the same question: How will you be ensuring that your campaign fully includes people with disabilities and intentionally speaks to people with disabilities? As RespectAbility did in 2016, all campaigns will be asked to complete a comprehensive disability questionnaire this summer.
RespectAbility is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities for people with disabilities. RespectAbility does not rate or endorse candidates. View more coverage of 2020 presidential candidates: http://therespectabilityreport.org/category/2020-campaign. To learn more about the organization, visit our website at www.respectability.org.