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., April 8 – Earlier today, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders announced that he is dropping out of the 2020 Democratic Primary, leaving former Vice President Joe Biden as the presumptive Democratic nominee for President.
While neither the Biden campaign nor the Trump campaign have yet released detailed policy plans on disability issues, ahead of the Iowa Caucus Sen. Sanders rolled out a comprehensive “Fighting for Disability Rights Plan.” In the plan, Sen. Sanders promised to “incorporate disability issues into every other area of public policy” and “promote access, autonomy, inclusion and self-determination for all.” The RespectAbility Reportcovered the plan back in February.
Sen. Sanders had also responded to RespectAbility’s detailed candidate questionnaire on disability issues. The questionnaire was purely for educational purposes. RespectAbility reached out to all of the major presidential campaigns on both sides of the aisle. All responses to the candidate questionnaire will be posted in full on The RespectAbility Report as they come in and will be used to produce and update nonpartisan voter guides in all 50 states. It is the hope of RespectAbility that the remaining candidates will send their responses in soon.
Guide Highlights Presidential Candidates’ Responses to 2020 Disability Candidate Questionnaire
Manchester, New Hampshire, Feb. 10 – As New Hampshire voters get ready to go to the polls in their state’s primary election, the nonpartisan disability rights nonprofit RespectAbility has released its New Hampshire State Voter Guide. According to the 2018 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, there are more than 171,000 people with disabilities in New Hampshire. There is no early voting in New Hampshire’s presidential primaries. However, absentee ballots can be requested until the day before the election (February 10, 2020) and must be received by the day of the election (February 11, 2020) at 5:00 PM. This is a useful option for people with disabilities whose disability keeps them from voting in person. Voters with disabilities also can have an election judge or a person of their choice assist them with voting in person, as long as that person is not the individual’s employer, union representative, or a candidate running for office.
Research conducted in the 2018 election shows that 74 percent of likely voters either have a disability themselves or have a family member or a close friend with disabilities. The upcoming elections and their results will have an impact on people with disabilities, so it is important to become familiar with the candidates’ positions on certain issues.
Washington, D.C., Jan 29 – As a nonpartisan national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can participate fully in all aspects of community, RespectAbility has invited all candidates in the presidential race on both sides of the aisle to submit their answers to a 2020 Disability…
Washington, D.C., Jan 28 – With only days before the Iowa Caucus, presidential candidates are reaching out to voters with disabilities and their loved ones with specific plans for youth employment. According to the CDC, approximately one-in-four adults living in the community have a disability. Research conducted in the 2018 election shows…
Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 17 – Mayor Pete Buttigieg called for equal voting access for people with disabilities at a town hall in Des Moines earlier this week. He also said it is important to ensure funding for the equal access.
“Part of our plan on disabilities is to make sure that we’re supporting ways for people with disabilities to have equal access to the vote, because you know, that’s 1 in 4 Americans,” the presidential hopeful said in response to a question about voters with disabilities – asked by a voter on the autism spectrum. “And those who don’t face disabilities might in the future, so we all have a stake in doing something about it… And we need to put funding behind it.”
Massachusetts Senator and presidential candidate completes RespectAbility Candidate Questionnaire
Washington, D.C., Jan. 7 – Posted last week on her website, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign has released a comprehensive statement on disability policy covering critical issues such as employment, health care, education, technology and the social safety net. Subsequently, the campaign completed the 2020 Disability Voter Questionnaire by the disability advocacy group RespectAbility.
Her responses to questionnaire reflect technical expertise drawn directly from diverse leaders in the disability community.
“People with disabilities are still fighting for economic security, equal opportunity, and inclusion – and they are not fighting alone,” Warren said. “As president, I will work in partnership with the disability community to combat ableism.”
Further, she aligns her campaign commitments to the “the four goals of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act): equal opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency.” Establishing a new “National Office of Disability Coordination to ensure that federal programs work together to support people with disabilities” is one way she intends to keep her promises if elected.
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.
RespectAbility, a nonpartisan national nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community, has sent its nonpartisan voter questionnaire to of all the viable presidential candidates on a variety of disability issues. The outreach is being done in conjunction with…
Washington, D.C., Dec. 19 – Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has officially announced that he is running for president in the democratic primary. But how is his campaign doing on including people with disabilities?
For a presidential campaign to be fully inclusive of people with disabilities, it needs to meet the following requirements, at a minimum: (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 and fully include the disability community, and (5) provide accessible campaign events, social media, documents and website. Bloomberg’s campaign has room for improvement, but there are some positive signs that the campaign is trying to be inclusive.
Washington, D.C., Dec. 2 – Under the banner headline of “Fighting for an Accessible and Inclusive America,” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren pledges she “will always fight for the full inclusion of people with disabilities.” The presidential candidate’s thorough plan to address disability rights highlights both her record of advocacy in areas such as employment and education while also pledging major actions on health care and inclusion. Her disability rights plan concludes by making it clear that this “policy is personal.”
Noting High Intersection Between Disability and LGBTQ+ Communities, Buttigieg Addresses Bullying Epidemic
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Nov. 26 – The 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary is heating up, and in recent polls, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has been surging in Iowa. Earlier this month, he released a comprehensive plan for the disability community and rolled it out at a Democratic Party Candidate Forum, Accessibility for All, on disability issues in Cedar Rapids. This forum was the first time in the 2020 campaign cycle that disability issues were the main topic of discussion.
As a veteran, he placed a particular emphasis on mental health and suicide prevention, saying that “the place we need to get to as a country is where it is as routine to talk about and act on mental health issues as we would a physical challenge.” Mental health is the most common disability that people in America have, so Mayor Buttigieg’s emphasis on it was notable.
New York City, May 17 – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is currently in charge of America’s largest city, and now he is running for President. As mayor of NYC, he represented 455,000 working-age people with disabilities in the city, as nearly half of all working-age New Yorkers with disabilities live in the greater New York City metropolitan area.
According to Vice, “Commissioner Victor Calise is working on making New York ‘the most accessible city in the world.’” And the de Blasio administration has taken some concrete steps to move New York closer to that goal. But as the article’s title suggests, the city has a long way to go.
Under Mayor de Blasio, the city has launched NYC ATWORK: a successful program to provide resources and opportunities to job-seekers with disabilities. This effort is overseen by the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, led by Commissioner Victor Calise. NYC ATWORK helps connect people with disabilities looking for jobs and businesses looking to hire qualified individuals. The Mayor’s office is also behind Project Open House, which “removes architectural barriers in the homes of people with permanent disabilities.”
Washington, D.C., May 15 – When Tulsi Gabbard, the Democratic Representative from the 2nd congressional district of Hawaii, entered the presidential race, the 38-year-old Iraq war veteran knew that if she were to win the election, she would make history as the first woman president, the first Hindu president, the…
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. April 22 – Before 2018, most of the country had never heard of former Congressman Robert “Beto” O’Rourke (D) from the 16th District of Texas. Today, he is a household name due to his nearly successful, entirely grassroots, U.S. Senate campaign during the 2018 midterm elections. O’Rourke narrowly…
Washington, D.C., April 18 – The first woman and first African American to be California’s Attorney General, Sen. Kamala Harris was the first woman of color to enter the 2020 presidential race. If she were to win the presidential election, she would be the first woman president and the first woman of color to sit in the Oval Office.
It is no coincidence that she announced her candidacy on MLK day, as her campaign, much like her career, is focused on civil rights. Her campaign tagline is “of the people, by the people, for all people.” She prides herself in protecting the most vulnerable Americans, as explained in her Senate biography. People with disabilities are, arguably, the most vulnerable members of society. So, naturally, her career and presidential campaign should reflect a continued fight for disability rights. But she still has much room for improvement on disability issues.