Washington, D.C., July 31 – With 94 days until the Presidential election, surrogates from the Trump and the Biden campaigns will address a nationwide audience of more than 2,000 disability advocates, subject matter experts and community leaders gathered to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Since Monday, July 27, the national disability nonprofit RespectAbility has hosted a series of virtual #ADA30 events focused on some of the most critical issues impacting people with disabilities in our nation today.
“Three decades later, the work to advance opportunities for people with disabilities continues,” said former Congressman and current chair of RespectAbility, the Honorable Steve Bartlett. “The ADA is meant to ensure that people with disabilities have the opportunity to earn an income and achieve independence. However, that law is only one of many tools in our nation’s policy toolbox to make our nation a fairer, more equitable place.”
Now, with election on everyone’s minds, the campaigns are speaking directly to the issues most important to the disability community. President Trump’s daughter-in-law and campaign adviser Lara Trump will deliver remarks for the President’s reelection campaign. Michelle Kwan, former Olympic figure skater and former board member of Special Olympics, will speak for the Joe Biden Campaign for President.
According to the U.S. Census, more than 56 million people – 1 in 5 Americans – had at least one disability prior to COVID-19. This includes people with physical, sensory, learning, cognitive and other barriers to everyday living. The disability community is growing because of this pandemic, both from people who had the coronavirus and with so many people experiencing mental health challenges.
People with disabilities are America’s largest minority group and the only one that, due to an accident or illness, anyone can join at any time. Indeed, America has 61 million people with disabilities. Voters with disabilities want access in democracy, just like anyone else. At the same time, they have specific issues of interest. For example, of the 22 million working age (18-64) people with disabilities in our country, fully 70 percent of them are outside of the labor force.
Polling data of the battleground states shows that the disability community is large and electorally contested, but the issues they care about most are not being sufficiently addressed. More than half of the electorate in the battleground (59 percent) self-identifies as having a disability (16 percent), having a family member with a disability (32 percent) or having a close friend with a disability (11 percent).
Friday’s event will also showcase speakers dedicated to securing a place at the leadership table for members of the disability community. Stephen David Simon, Executive Director of the City of Los Angeles Department on Disability, will deliver a keynote address and speak directly about how people with disabilities can influence local government to make their lives better. Simon will be followed by a panel moderated by Matan A. Koch. Koch is A longtime national leader in disability advocacy and works as the Director of RespectAbility California and Jewish Leadership. Andrea Jennings, founder of Shifting Creative Paradigms Entertainment and Productions, Jaime Pacheco-Orozco, Assistant Executive Director of the City of Los Angeles, Department on Disability, and Anastasia Somoza, Community Liaison, NYC Council’s liaison to disability community, will speak about strategies for self-advocates to get involved with local government. Additionally, Ariella Barker, JD, MPA, former volunteer leader on RespectAbility SNAP campaign, Ila Eckhoff, Managing Director, BlackRock and former RespectAbility Public Policy Fellow Gloria Medina will join a panel to speak about methods and models for civic engagement across the disability community.
The nonpartisan conference is sponsored by Comcast NBCUniversal, the Murray/Reese Foundation, Sony Pictures Entertainment and The Walt Disney Company.
#ADA30 Summit: Friday, July 31 – Leadership: Making a Difference for the Future
1–4:15 p.m. ET / 10 a.m.–1:15 p.m. PT
All events are free and fully accessible with ASL interpreters and live captions.
Interviews available with RespectAbility Chairman Steve Bartlett and other speakers. View the full schedule and speakers list and register here: https://www.respectability.org/ada30.
About RespectAbility: RespectAbility is a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community.
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President
Lauren Appelbaum, Vice President, Communications