Washington, D.C., August 21 – On behalf of the Biden Campaign, former Olympic figure skater and Special Olympics Board Member Michelle Kwan reached out to the 1-in-5 people who live with a physical, sensory, cognitive, mental health or other disability on the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“It is more important than ever that we fulfill the promise of the ADA and build a more equal and inclusive society,” Kwan said at a national #ADA30 summit sponsored by RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that fights stigmas and advances opportunities for people with disabilities. “That’s why [Biden] has introduced a plan for the Full Participation and Equality for People with Disabilities.” More than 10,000 people watched RespectAbility’s online summit.
Each campaign cycle, RespectAbility issues nonpartisan disability voter guides in each of America’s 50 states. This year’s guide will focus on seven core questions that impact the lives and livelihoods of people with disabilities.People with disabilities are America’s largest marginalized population and the only one that, due to an accident, aging or illness, anyone can join at any time. 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.
“We are grateful that Michelle Kwan spoke on behalf of the Biden campaign to the disability community on issues that are important to us. This election cycle is more important than ever, and it is vital for people with disabilities to register and vote. It also is critical for voting – whether it is online, by mail or in-person – to be accessible to voters with disabilities,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility.
Voters with disabilities want access in democracy, just like anyone else. At the same time, they have specific issues of interest. Of the 22 million working age (ages 18-64) people with disabilities in our country, fully 70 percent of them were outside of the labor force even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the pandemic, more than 20 percent of people with disabilities who had jobs have lost them.
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).
Full Transcript of Michelle Kwan’s Remarks
“Hi everyone! Thank you so much for inviting the Biden campaign to speak as a part of the RespectAbility celebration of the 30th Anniversary of the ADA. My name is Michelle Kwan, former Olympic figure skater. I am the Director of Surrogates for the Joe Biden Campaign for President and for over a decade I have been honored to be a board member of Special Olympics.
As Vice President Biden mentioned on Sunday in his statement around the anniversary, he has been a proud co-sponsor of the ADA and continues to fight for the rights of people with disabilities established under this landmark legislation. It is more important than ever that we fulfill the promise of the ADA and build a more equal and inclusive society. That’s why he has introduced a plan for the Full Participation and Equality for People with Disabilities.
This plan will make bold investments in home and community care through Medicaid, end subminimum wage, fully fund IDEA, eliminate the Supplemental Security Income marriage penalty, and so much more. The plan also creates a senior White House position dedicated to asserting the interests of Americans with disabilities in every area of policy development — ensuring that disability rights are embedded in everything his administration will pursue.
Thank you again for inviting us and happy anniversary of the ADA.”