Read Joe Biden’s plan to support people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic at https://joebiden.com/covid19-disabilities/.
Joe Biden believes that everyone should be treated with dignity and have a fair shot at getting ahead. This year, on July 26, we will mark the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Thanks to the leadership of people with disabilities, disability advocates, and their allies, we have made progress towards the goals of this law—“equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency” for people with disabilities. But, there is much more work to do in order to ensure that all people with disabilities are able to participate fully in our communities and enjoy the same kinds of choices and opportunities that many Americans take for granted.
To accomplish these goals, as President, Biden will:
- Ensure full inclusion of people with disabilities in policy development and aggressively enforce the civil rights of people with disabilities.
- Guarantee access to high-quality, affordable health care, including mental health care, and expand access to home and community-based services and long-term services and supports in the most integrated setting appropriate to each person’s needs and based on self-determination.
- Expand competitive, integrated employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
- Protect and strengthen economic security for people with disabilities.
- Ensure that students with disabilities have access to educational programs and support they need to succeed, from early interventions to post-secondary education.
- Expand access to accessible, integrated, and affordable housing, transportation, and assistive technologies and protect people with disabilities in emergencies.
- Advance global disability rights.
Work with Congress to pass legislation ensuring adherence to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision. The Olmstead decision requires government programs to provide people with disabilities the choice to “live, work, and receive services in integrated settings” appropriate to their needs. The Obama-Biden Administration made enforcement of Olmstead a top priority. As President, Biden will ensure every agency aggressively enforces Olmstead’s integration mandate, including in housing, education, health care, employment, and transportation. As President, Biden will work with Congress to ensure that people with disabilities no longer have to wait for decades to access community-based services.
Safeguard against efforts to weaken the ADA and push for strong ADA compliance. Although much progress has been made in achieving accommodations for people with disabilities through the ADA, Biden will continue to advocate for stronger ADA enforcement. He will support the Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act, which will increase tax credits for small businesses to improve accessibility and comply with the ADA.
Nominate judges who support disability rights and reflect the diversity of our country. Biden will nominate individuals to the judiciary who are committed to the rule of law, understand the importance of individual civil rights and civil liberties in a democratic society, and respect foundational precedents including Olmstead v. LC. Biden will also make it a priority to appoint judges who reflect the diversity of our country, including people with disabilities.
Direct the U.S. Department of Justice to review guardianship laws, with an eye toward ensuring that citizens with disabilities are able to exercise self-determination consistent with the ADA. And, the Biden Administration will promote efforts to provide people with disabilities viable alternatives to guardianship if they need decision-making assistance, including supported decision-making.
Protect the parental rights of people with disabilities. Many states have laws that allow a parent’s disability to be considered in making a determination regarding their fitness to be a parent. Biden will ensure that child welfare agencies and family courts do not violate the rights of parents with disabilities and that they have appropriate training to fairly assess parental capacity in a non-discriminatory manner.
Expand access to high-quality early childhood supports and education. Biden will fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), including Part C, which provides resources and support for infants and toddlers with disabilities, and Section 619, which provides resources for preschool children with disabilities. Biden will direct his HHS to ensure that all eligible children receive Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) services and address the challenges outlined in GAO’s 2019 report. IDEA Part C, Part B Section 619, and EPSDT services are critical in identifying potential vision, hearing, developmental, and other issues and providing needed supports and services for children. For example, language deprivation for children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in the early years of life can have lasting impact on a child’s language and cognitive skills. Biden will provide parents, health care providers, and early childhood professionals the resources needed to support these children, including access to Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and language-rich environments, and work with the community to develop development milestones. He will ensure that early intervention professionals provide equitable resources to support language learning to parents of children aged 0-5.
Support students with disabilities in elementary and secondary school. Biden will ensure that no child’s future is determined by their zip code, parents’ income, race, or disability.
- Fulfill IDEA’s promise of free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment for students with disabilities. Biden will fully fund and enforce IDEA and triple Title I funding to increase resources available to educators to meet the needs of students with disabilities. Biden will ensure that schools provide students with disabilities appropriate support, including sign language interpreters, readers, door-to-door transportation, computer-assisted devices, augmentative and alternative communication, as well as braille materials. He will also increase funding for Parent Training Centers.
- Address the disparities in school discipline, including suspension, expulsion, and segregation. Biden will fully implement the special education significant disproportionality regulation that the Obama-Biden Administration put in place and support the passage of the Keeping All Students Safe Act, which will end the use of seclusion and prevent and decrease the use of physical restraints in schools.
- Ensure that students of color are not inappropriately identified as having disabilities, while also ensuring that students of color with disabilities have the support to succeed. African American students are 40% more likely to be identified as having any disability, and twice as likely to be identified as having certain disabilities, such as emotional disturbance and intellectual disabilities. The Obama-Biden Administration issued regulations to address racial disparities in special education programs, including disproportionate identification. The Trump Administration attempted to illegally delay the Obama-Biden Administration’s regulation. Biden will fully implement this regulation and provide educators with the resources they need to provide students with disabilities a high-quality education.
Working to ratify the Disabilities Treaty. The United States in 2009 signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a treaty which reflects the principles of the American with Disabilities Act. Biden will work with the Senate to ratify the Disabilities Treaty and regain our global standing as a leader on disability rights.
Celebrating the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities, every December 3, to recognize the accomplishments and challenges of persons with disabilities in the U.S. and around the world and amplify the mantra of the disability rights movement: “Nothing About Us, Without Us.”