Ames, Iowa, Jan. 19 – Businessman Andrew Yang talked about employment opportunities for people with disabilities at a town hall earlier this week. While saying “much more” needs to done to ensure people with disabilities have access to opportunities and jobs, he also repeated a talking point that people with disabilities – and all people – have value regardless if they are working.
“Do we need to put much more in the way of resources to help people actually see the abilities of people who have different capacities and then have them enjoy that kind of independence and work? 100% yes,” Yang, who has a child on the autism spectrum, said at a town hall in Ames, Iowa. “But does that need to be the standard that people are at in order to live a good fulfilling happy life? No. It’s like — we should be investing in everyone’s happiness and fulfillment regardless of whether or not they can slot into a corporate role.”
Yang was responding a question posed by Ila Eckhoff, a woman with cerebral palsy who has a successful career as a CPA and Managing Director at BlackRock. She was asking the question as part of her role as a board member for RespectAbility, a nonpartisan organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community.
Previously, Yang responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is purely for educational purposes. RespectAbility has reached out to all of the major presidential campaigns on both sides of the aisle and will be posting all responses on The RespectAbility Report.
Read Full Transcript:
Ila Eckhoff: Hi. I’m actually here from an organization called RespectAbility, and thank you for completing the questionnaire that we put out to you and all the other candidates. My question is, there are dozens of government programs to help people with disabilities get jobs, but most of them do not coordinate or collaborate to create success. How will you get them to break down silos so people with disabilities can have jobs and independence just like everyone else?
Andrew Yang: Thank you for your work and your advocacy. I feel very, very passionately about this as the father of an autistic child and as a person. We need to do much more to help people with disabilities access opportunities and jobs. But I’m going to make a bigger argument. We cannot put ourselves in a bucket where we’re saying, “Hey, everyone can contribute at the marketplace.” Because, one, there are some people that legitimately cannot. Like, there are nonverbal autistic children who are going to grow up to become nonverbal adults. And two, it should not matter. Like, we all have value no matter what. This is one thing that drives me crazy about the arguments about women in business It’s like — you know what you always hear is that, “oh, companies with women in leadership roles make more money.” Let’s unpack that – like the purpose of treating women well is to make more money. And if for some reason you wouldn’t make more money by treating women well than you would not?
[Laughter and Applause]
So, this is the argument I’d make to people with disabilities. It’s like, do we need to put much more in the way of resources to help people actually see the abilities of people who have different capacities and then have them enjoy that kind of independence and work? 100% yes. But does that need to be the standard that people are at in order to live a good fulfilling happy life? No. It’s like — we should be investing in everyone’s happiness and fulfillment regardless of whether or not they can slot into a corporate role.
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.