Washington, D.C., July 30 – Marianne Williamson’ Instagram post and Tweet in commemoration of the 29th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) on Friday have come under fire from many in the disability community for insensitive language and her focus on visiting a sheltered workshop in Las Vegas that pays its disabled employees less than a dollar an hour. On Monday afternoon, her Instagram post was edited, removing any reference to Opportunity Village but not removing the phrase “differently abled,” a term the disability community does not use to describe themselves.
In her Instagram post, Williamson calls for people with disabilities being able to access “all educational and training programs,” including preparing children with disabilities for “post-secondary education” and increasing funding for assistive technology.
Williamson 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.