Washington, D.C., May 28 – After months of frustration, anticipation and advocacy by the disability community, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden unveiled his campaign’s disability platform. The plan, intended to positively impact the lives of the one-in-five Americans living with a disability, covers a range of issues as diverse and broad as the wider challenges facing the nation. Critically, the plan commits Biden and his campaign to ensure that “people with disabilities have a voice in their government” and are included throughout the “policy development and implementation” process.
The plan specifically delineates how a Biden presidency would “enforce civil rights,” ensure “affordable health care,” expand “competitive, integrated employment,” “strengthen economic security,” improve “educational programs,” and address “affordable housing, transportation, and assistive technologies” needs in the community as well as advancing “global disability rights.”
Washington, D.C., May 7 – On the first day of African American history month, Sen. Cory Booker announced his campaign for President. Booker is the first African-American U.S. Senator from New Jersey and the 36th Mayor of Newark, but he is not the average politician. He is an Ivy League educated policy wonk and bachelor, who holds celebrity status for his social media presence and famous actress girlfriend, Rosario Dawson, best known for her part in the movie “Rent.” While voters find him charismatic and experienced, in a crowded field he has failed to perform that well in the polls.
If Booker hopes to improve his position in the polls, he must represent all Americans, including people with disabilities, who are politically active swing voters. People with disabilities comprise 25 percent of our country’s adult population, and more than half of all Americans have a loved one with a disability. A recent survey shows that fully three-quarters of likely voters either have a disability themselves or have a family member or a close friend with disabilities.
Ensuring Disability Inclusion Through Equal Access
For a presidential campaign to be fully inclusive of people with disabilities, it needs to meet the following requirements: (1) offer captioning with every video it shares or produces, (2) mention people with disabilities and their issues, (3) depict people with visible disabilities in its media, (4) reach out to the disability community, and (5) provide accessible campaign events and website.
Booker announced his presidential campaign with a colorful, creative and exciting announcement video on social media that incorporated a black marching band drum line. The video had fantastic and accurate open captioning that only failed to caption the upbeat drum line background music. However, he made no mention of people with disabilities nor depicted any Americans with visible disabilities. And the videos he has since released make these same mistakes, sometimes even failing to include captioning at all. Thus, he has missed the opportunity, thus far, to have a fully disability inclusive video campaign.
Further, his website says, “Cory is leading the fight for equal justice for all Americans.” However, while his website mentions and depicts diversity in race, gender and sexual orientation, it does not mention or depict people with disabilities once. True diversity exists only if people with disabilities are included, and a candidate cannot represent all Americans if he is excluding 20-25 percent of them.
Washington, D.C., May 5 – “Will you be putting people with disabilities in your campaign ads and will you be putting them on your staff?” asked Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, the President of RespectAbility. To which, presidential hopeful Mayor Pete Buttigieg replied, “Yes,” during a campaign stop in the nation’s capital on April 4, making him and Beto O’Rourke the only two presidential candidates to make such a campaign promise on the record.
And by the end of the month, Buttigieg had kept his promise by hiring Emily Voorde, a wheelchair-user, to work for his campaign. This occurred only days after sending a video message using American Sign Language to a deaf supporter to thank him for his support. By quickly keeping this campaign promise, Americans with disabilities have reason to hope that Buttigieg’s campaign will have people with disabilities in mind.
Buttigieg, also known as “Mayor Pete,” is unlike any of his adversaries or any other former president. He is a 37-year-old, openly gay millennial from South Bend, Indiana, who speaks at least seven languages, graduated with honors from Harvard and served in the Navy. In 2012, he became the Mayor of South Bend, a small midwestern industrial town, struggling to stay afloat. Buttigieg has received great credit and esteem for his work in turning around this Rust Belt city. He ran a failed bid for the presidency of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in 2017 and later announced his campaign for president of the United States earlier this year.
Washington, D.C., May 4 – When former Vice President Joe Biden threw his hat into the race for President of the United States, he became the 20th Democratic candidate to run for president in the 2020 election. He immediately led in most national and early primary state polls. When analyzing…
Washington, D.C., March 1 – Washington Gov. Jay Inslee entered the crowded 2020 presidential race Friday, becoming the first sitting governor to do so. While he is making climate change a leading issue for his presidential bid, he has made disability employment a priority during his governorship. Gov. Inslee announced…
As many tune in after my State of the Union response, I want to take a minute to speak about recently proposed legislation that supports Americans with disabilities, a community that is in my heart and on my agenda. pic.twitter.com/xGnZs9AHJv — Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) February 8, 2019 Washington, D.C., Feb.…