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Author: Lauren Appelbaum

Klobuchar Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire

Key actions and positions posted on the intersection of disability and education, jobs, immigration, climate crisis, criminal justice and more

headshot of Amy Klobuchar smiling
Amy Klobuchar

Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 14 – Presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar has responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does not endorse candidates. 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. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Klobuchar’s responses follows:

1. What policies and actions do you support to reduce the stigmas of people with disabilities that are barriers to employment, independence and equality?

Senator Klobuchar believes we must do more to combat the stigma of Americans with disabilities and advance their rights and full participation in society. As President, Senator Klobuchar will prioritize strong enforcement of civil rights legislation, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Olmstead decision, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and other laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities.  She will support full funding and staffing for the various Offices of Civil Rights and the Department of Justice’s Disability Rights Section offices to ensure disability cases are fully investigated.

Senator Klobuchar is also committed to promoting financial stability and security for people with disabilities. As President, she will work to pass the Raise the Wage Act — which she co-sponsors in the Senate — to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 for all workers and guarantee that all workers are paid at least the federal minimum wage by eliminating the subminimum wage for workers with disabilities. She is also committed to expanding and improving employment training programs for Americans with disabilities. She helped pass the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act in 2014, which strengthened workforce training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities. As President, she will oppose attempts to weaken the definition of competitive integrated employment. She will also expand the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, which provides funds and administers grant programs that offer training and employment assistance to people with disabilities.

In addition, Senator Klobuchar will expand tax credits — including the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, Disability Access Expenditures Tax Credit, and Architectural and Transportation Barrier Tax Credit — for employers who hire individuals with disabilities and make workplaces more accessible to those employees, and she will also support inclusion training programs for employers to address discrimination in the workplace. 

In the Senate, Senator Klobuchar has championed policies to ensure that people who want to stay in their homes and communities can do so. She is a co-sponsor of the Disability Integration Act of 2019 and as President she will push to pass this legislation and address institutional bias in Medicaid to expand access to home and community-based services for people with disabilities. She will also promote remote monitoring technology and telehealth services in Medicare and other programs that improve the quality of life and expand access to quality home care and emergency hospital services in rural areas. Read more about Senator Klobuchar’s plan to protect equal rights and provide opportunity for people with disabilities here.

Buttigieg Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire

Key actions and positions posted on the intersection of disability and education, jobs, immigration, climate crisis, criminal justice and more

close-up of pete buttigieg's face
Pete Buttigieg

Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 12 – Presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg has responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does not endorse candidates. 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. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Buttigieg’s responses follows:

1. What policies and actions do you support to reduce the stigmas of people with disabilities that are barriers to employment, independence and equality?

As President, I will strive to build a culture of belonging for everyone. We need both a massive shift in federal policies and a more inclusive and welcoming society to break down barriers to employment, dignity, independence, and inequality for people with disabilities. I will retrofit our government so it works for, and not against, people with disabilities. I will use the office of the presidency—and all the levers of government available to me—to tirelessly advocate for people with disabilities, so they no longer have to do it on their own.

People with disabilities should have every opportunity to live the life of their choosing, and that includes having a fulfilling, well-paying job and career options to achieve community integration. Yet today, only three in ten Americans with disabilities are employed, compared to about seven in ten people without disabilities. For Black Americans with disabilities, the employment rate is less than two in ten.

That’s why I am committed to dramatically increasing opportunities for competitive integrated employment. Embracing Senator Tom Harkin’s goal, my administration will work on a national campaign to double labor force participation for people with disabilities by 2030, the 40th anniversary of the ADA, with a focus on closing racial inequities. This will require support from different federal agencies, states, and stakeholders across the private and social sectors. Together, I believe we can dramatically reduce the stigmas of people with disabilities by committing to bold goals, shifting federal policies, and creating a culture of belonging for everyone.

Sanders Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire

Key actions and positions posted on the intersection of disability and education, jobs, immigration, climate crisis, criminal justice and more

close-up of Bernie Sanders smiling while wearing a suit and a tie
Bernie Sanders

Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 11 – Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders has responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does not endorse candidates. 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. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Sanders’ responses follows:

1. What policies and actions do you support to reduce the stigmas of people with disabilities that are barriers to employment, independence and equality?

We recently celebrated the 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Despite the progress we’ve made, we unfortunately still live in a world where people with disabilities have fewer work opportunities and where the civil rights of people with disabilities are not always protected and respected. We must recommit to championing the rights of people with disabilities. As a nation, we have a moral responsibility to ensure that all people with disabilities have their rights protected.

We must guarantee people with disabilities the right to live in the community; truly integrated employment that pays a living wage; affordable, accessible housing; and the right to health care, including mental health care and home and community based services and supports.

Every person with a disability deserves the right to live in the community and have the services and supports they need to pursue the American Dream. This right must be available to all, free of waiting lists and means tests. It is our moral responsibility to make it happen.

When Bernie is in the White House he is committed to having an administration that looks like America to help show every person in America that not only do they belong in the White House that the White House needs them, their experience, knowledge, and advocacy in order to create an America that works for everyone.

As President, Bernie will create a National Office of Disability Coordination focused on coordinating disability policy making to advance the full inclusion of people with disabilities, including ensuring every aspect of our public resources are ADA compliant and that the civil rights of people with disabilities are enforced. This office will be run by a person with a disability.

Personal, Professional Efforts Spur Klobuchar’s Disability Plan

Cedar Rapids, Jan. 10 – Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar became the latest Democratic presidential candidate to release a detailed disability policy plan. Unlike other candidates, the senator also held a live event where she detailed her plan and held a panel discussion with three local disability experts, delving deeper into specific aspects of her plan. In a press statement released prior to the disability-focused event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Klobuchar cited her “a strong track record of standing up for people with disabilities.” Key highlights of the plan include commitments around long-term care, expanding healthcare access, and advancing economic opportunities as well as promoting disability rights at home and abroad.

four individuals, one being Sen. Amy Klobuchar, seated on a stage, while other people are in the audience
Sen. Amy Klobuchar hosts a panel discussion on disability rights in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Klobuchar’s plan includes a reference to her personal and professional efforts on disability issues. A key accomplishment of her time in the Senate was the passage of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. The ABLE Act has been a pathway for improved financial security for thousands of people with disabilities and their families. Likewise, Klobuchar cited her past service on the advisory board of the PACER Center. PACER “provides individual assistance, workshops, publications, and other resources to help families” and youth with disabilities.

Warren Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire

Key actions and positions posted on the intersection of disability and education, jobs, immigration, climate crisis, criminal justice and more

Elizabeth Warren smiling wearing a blue suit
Elizabeth Warren

Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 7– Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren has responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does not endorse candidates. 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. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Warren’s responses follows:

1. What policies and actions do you support to reduce the stigmas of people with disabilities that are barriers to employment, independence and equality?

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the ADA, and the 100th anniversary of the Vocational Rehabilitation program. Though we have made significant progress for the 61 million Americans living with disabilities, we have a lot of ground left to cover. People with disabilities are still fighting for economic security, equal opportunity, and inclusion – and they are not fighting alone. As president, I will work in partnership with the disability community to combat ableism. I will fight alongside them for justice across all aspects of life and to fulfill the four goals of the ADA: equal opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self sufficiency. I’ll start by making clear that disability is a priority in my administration, creating a National Office of Disability Coordination to ensure that federal programs work together to support people with disabilities. 

Building economic security for people with disabilities means rewriting the rules of the economy to foster inclusivity, value their labor, and end labor market discrimination and exploitation. As president, I’ll fight for economic security for individuals with disabilities by supporting opportunities to participate fully in the economy at a fair wage and to ensure financial security for all. My administration will also support children with disabilities and their families by providing crucial early interventions and ensuring meaningful access to education. When children with disabilities are supported and included, they can excel. But right now, we are failing on our country’s promise to give them a great education. My administration will invest in providing a meaningful, free and appropriate public education to students with disabilities by fully funding IDEA and will tackle discriminatory policies and practices in education head-on.  

Experts have sounded the alarm about the potential for artificial intelligence and algorithms to discriminate against individuals with disabilities across a variety of areas, including automated job screenings and housing. As president, I’ll create a taskforce that works across relevant federal agencies to promote enforcement of existing anti-discrimination laws, new regulations that specifically address discrimination in current and emerging technology, and guidance to the industry to promote compliance. My administration will ensure that technology is used to advance the interests of people with disabilities.  

Systemic failures to consider and include people with disabilities have resulted in unconscionable limitations on their freedom to participate in our society and barriers to housing, transportation, and health care. As President, I’ll protect the rights and civil liberties of people with disabilities in areas like voting, criminal justice, and parental custody. My administration will also fight for affordable, accessible, and green housing, accessible public transportation, and environmental justice. We’ll ensure consistent access to affordable, high quality health care, and lead the fight for disability rights around the world. Read more about my plan here: https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/disability-rights

Yang Releases Major Disability Ideas, Pledges to Tackle Barriers and Stigmas

First Candidate to Complete RespectAbility Candidate Questionnaire

Washington, D.C., Jan. 6 – For the first time this campaign season, businessman Andrew Yang has provided more detailed information regarding a variety of disability-related policies – from education and employment to immigration and community integration. Responding to a questionnaire by the disability advocacy group RespectAbility, businessman Andrew Yang outlined his views. 

In responses to 15 questions submitted by the organization concerning people with disabilities, Yang noted the stigmas that exist that “incorrectly label them as liabilities.” He pledged to “incentivize businesses to hire people with disabilities by offering tax benefits to those that provide adequate job training for people with disabilities.”

Regarding immigration, he called for a reversal of the public charge rule that impacts immigrants with disabilities. “In addition to making sure the U.S. does not discriminate against immigrants with disabilities at the border, we must also ensure that immigrants are sufficiently cared for throughout the immigration process,” Yang added.

Yang Completes Disability Candidate Questionnaire

Key actions and positions posted on the intersection of disability and education, jobs, immigration, climate crisis, criminal justice and more

close up of Andrew Yang smiling wearing a white collared shirt and gray suit jacket
Andrew Yang

Des Moines, Iowa, Jan, 6 – Presidential candidate Andrew Yang has responded to a detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire is from RespectAbility, a nonpartisan nonprofit disability organization that does not endorse candidates. 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. The full text of RespectAbility’s questions and Yang’s responses follows:

1. What policies and actions do you support to reduce the stigmas of people with disabilities that are barriers to employment, independence and equality?

Andrew believes that people with disabilities have much to offer society, and that their contributions are regularly impeded due to the lack of enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). People with disabilities make up a large portion of the population, and everyone loses when these individuals can’t fully participate in society due to structural and systemic barriers. We need to rewrite the rules of our country so that they apply equally to everyone. 

Addressing the barriers and stigma around employment should start at the federal level. The government should lead by example through hiring people with disabilities and valuing the contribution of people with disabilities in the workforce. The federal government should also ensure that all of its services, websites, and materials are accessible. 

If the government improved enforcement of the ADA, people with disabilities would have more opportunities to find work and integrate into society. Andrew is committed to the consolidation of federal agencies that enforce the ADA into a synchronized single entity, ending the problematic fragmentation of our current system. He will appoint people with disabilities to positions to ensure that they are represented throughout the decision- and policy-making process.

Andrew supports policies that strengthen the enforcement of the ADA and ensure that the civil rights of people with disabilities are protected as the law requires. Andrew supports the Disability Integration Act (DIA), as well as increasing funding for special education. 

Disability Employment Highlighted at Democratic Primary Debate

Los Angeles, Dec. 19 – For the first time this political season, a debate moderator, Politico’s Tim Alberta, asked a question specifically on disability policy – giving the example of Kyle, a young adult with disabilities in Iowa: “Are there specific steps you would take to help people like Kyle to become more integrated into the workforce and into their local communities?”

Out of more than 20 million working-age people with disabilities, just 7.5 million have jobs, while 70 percent would prefer to be employed. This data also shows the serious gaps that remain between disabled and non-disabled Americans: 37 percent of U.S. civilians with disabilities ages 18-64 living in the community had a job, compared to 77.2 percent for people without disabilities. 

Just three candidates were given the opportunity to respond – businessmen Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Sen. Amy Klobuchar – and potentially others off camera – also tried to answer but the moderators moved on to another topic.

Presidential Candidates’ Website Accessibility Improves but More Work Still Needed

Four Candidates – Biden, Booker, Castro and Yang – Have “Mostly Accessible” Websites

Washington, D.C., Dec. 19 – Nearly six months after a report by the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired found that all of the presidential candidates’ websites block democratic access to voters who are blind or have low vision, an update finds that still none of these websites – Democrat or Republican – are fully accessible. However, the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind found that many of the candidates’ websites do show improvements in accessibility.

The organization issued a challenge for the candidates in June: “ensure their websites are fully ADA compliant and immediately put an accessibility statement on their page.” Since then, both Entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Vice President Joe Biden’s have been deemed “mostly accessible” and are the only candidates who have qualified for the December debate to have scored higher than a 3.00 out of 4.00. 

Sen. Booker Calls Disability Rights “An Important Issue”

Washington, D.C., Oct. 24 – At a presidential campaign fundraiser on Capitol Hill last night, Sen. Cory Booker said disability rights is “an important issue.” Speaking to members of The RespectAbility Report, he stated he has and is going to have a lot of policies relating to disability rights coming out.

“We have more to do to ensure equality for Americans with disabilities who still face high poverty rates & barriers to health care & quality of life,” Cory Booker tweeted in commemoration of the 29th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) this summer. “As president, I’ll fight for equal rights & inclusion for people with disabilities.”

Buttigieg Stresses Importance of Including Disability Community in Policy Decisions

Washington, D.C., Oct. 12 – When presidential candidates include senior staff and advisors with disabilities, with the same effort as other marginalized populations, they are exposed to a variety of thoughts and ideas. Mayor Pete Buttigieg proved that during a recent interview with The New Republic when he noted the…

Klobuchar’s Plan for Veterans Includes Focus on Mental Health and Other Disabilities

Washington, D.C., Oct. 8 – Presidential hopeful Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s new plan for veterans pays specific attention to veterans with disabilities, highlighting “inadequate mental health and addiction services.” According to the U.S. Census, 3.8 million veterans have a service-connected disability, which is a result of a disease or injury incurred…

Buttigieg Calls For Full Funding of IDEA, Equipping Teachers with Resources to Support Students with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., Sept. 19 – Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) may not have a long legislative record for voters to examine on various issues but he showed his knowledge of legislation regarding education for children with disabilities during an interview with the progressive organization Supermajority Tuesday. 

Responding to a question from the mother of an 18-year-old student with autism, Buttigieg called for more attention to be paid to IEPs [individualized education plans] and for full funding of IDEA – the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which has yet to be fully funded since it was first passed in 1975. IDEA covers kids from birth through high school graduation or age 21, whichever comes first. Autistic students who need special education to make progress in school are supposed to be covered by IDEA. 

Presidential Candidates Discriminate Against Voters with Disabilities

Four Candidates – Biden, Booker, Warren, Yang – Have Made Substantial Improvements in Website Accessibility Washington, D.C., Sept. 12 – Nearly three months after a report by the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired found that all of the presidential candidates’ websites block democratic access to voters who are blind…

Harris Calls for Empowering “Ignored” Communities, Stresses Environmental Justice, During CNN Climate Town Hall

New York City, Sept. 5 – Sen. Kamala Harris called for environmental justice to empower “ignored” communities during the climate town hall on CNN. Carson Tueller, a man with a spinal cord injury who has thermodysregulation, leaving his body unable to control its own temperature and unable to sweat, asked…

Plastic Straw Ban Becomes Topic of Debate During CNN Climate Town Hall

New York City, Sept. 4 – For more than a year now, disability advocates have admonished the plastic straw ban, because it is clear the policy was enacted without the involvement of people with disabilities, some of whom need plastic straws to survive.  During the CNN Climate Town Hall, Sen. Kamala…

Kamala Harris Aims to Expand Economic Opportunity for Americans with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., August 29 – Presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris is calling for expanded “economic opportunity and security for people with disabilities” in a plan unveiled today. She points out that just one-third of people with disabilities who are working-age are employed, compared to three-quarters of those without disabilities in the same age range.

Sen. Harris’ plan focuses on ways to “eliminate barriers that make it harder for people with disabilities to fully participate in our workforce.” One-in-four adults in the United States today have a disability and just 37 percent of those who are ages 18-64 are employed. This means that out of more than 20 million working-age people with disabilities, just 7.5 million have jobs. 

Her plan includes six parts:

Joe Biden, Cosponsor of the ADA, Pledges to Fully Break Down Barriers for People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., July 30 – In celebration of the 29th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Joe Biden tweeted Friday that he was “proud to have cosponsored the Americans with Disabilities Act” and thanked Sen. Harkin for his “vision & persistence” to ensuring its passage, “a critical step in the fight…

On ADA Anniversary, Cory Booker Pledges to Ensure Equality for People with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., July 30 – “We have more to do to ensure equality for Americans with disabilities who still face high poverty rates & barriers to health care & quality of life,” Cory Booker tweeted in commemoration of the 29th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) on Friday. “As president, I’ll fight…

Kamala Harris Campaign Launches Americans with Disabilities Leadership Council on Anniversary of the ADA

Washington, D.C., July 30 – Kamala Harris, who held an hour-long call with her supporters in commemoration of the 29th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) on Friday, wrote a blog post “recommitting to build an America that is fully inclusive and accessible for everyone,” noting that there is still a lot…