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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Kamala Harris on Disabilities

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the issue's role in presidential campaigns.

Biden has chosen Kamala Harris as his running mate.  During her own campaign, she released a position paper on disabilities.

Kamala Harris, Medium, August 29, 2019:
Recommitting to building inclusive economic opportunity in America
According to CDC data, about a quarter of people in the United States have a disability. Kamala believes in an America that is fully accessible and inclusive for everyone and her administration will fight to make this a reality across all parts of our society. As president, Kamala will have diverse leaders with disabilities developing all the policies her administration champions, including priorities that will lift up people with disabilities.
To do this we must expand economic opportunity and security for people with disabilities. In 2018, the unemployment rate for workers with disabilities was more than twice that for workers without disabilities. Only 32 percent of people with disabilities who are working-age are employed. On the other hand, 73 percent of people without disabilities in the same age group are employed. Just as we fight to finally eliminate practices that lead to people with disabilities being paid subminimum wages, we also have to speak the truth about how we need to eliminate barriers that make it harder for people with disabilities to fully participate in our workforce.
Under Kamala’s leadership, in partnership with the disability community, we can build an America that lives up to the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Our country is stronger when everyone is valued, everyone has dignity, and everyone can be part of the competitive labor force.

She’ll fight to create inclusive emp loyment opportunities that pay people with disabilities their full value.
She’ll pass the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act, which will establish a grant program for states to help redesign business models and strategies to increase employment of people with disabilities in competitive integrated employment.
People with disabilities are both more likely to work in low wage fields as well as be paid less than the minimum wage. That’s why she’ll pass the Raise the Wage Act, which will not only raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour but will also phase out the “subminimum” wage.
She’ll remove barriers that make it harder for people with disabilities to take advantage of job opportunities.
Kamala will make changes to the vocational rehabilitation system at the Department of Education, which gives grants to states to help people with disabilities prepare for, secure, and retain employment. Kamala will make sure that the grant program covers a wider range of services and supports for a greater number of people to help more people with disabilities get the workplace accommodations, adaptive technology and devices, and other things that can be barriers to finding and maintaining a job.
And she’ll fight to increase funding for the program so that it can serve everyone who would benefit from assistance under it.
She’ll expand accessible, affordable transportation and housing options, which are key supports for anyone participating in the workforce.
Federal civil rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act already require that our transportation systems and housing projects be fully accessible. However, these accommodations still have accessibility issues because efforts to make the projects fully accessible are frequently not done at the front-end of the project.
For example, more than a quarter of rail stations across the country are not fully accessible to people with disabilities. The same is true of 12% of the U.S. rail fleet.
Kamala will address this by taking executive action to direct the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to require that funding recipients submit plans detailing how their projects will be fully accessible prior to receiving funding.
She’ll fight to pass the IDEA Full Funding Act to make sure that students with disabilities are learning in classrooms that have funding to ensure they can get the education they deserve, which is key to ensuring long-term economic opportunity.
And she’ll direct her education secretary to increase enforcement of civil rights laws designed to protect that right to an education.
And she’ll work to increase resources to better prepare teachers to meet the needs of students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms and expand access to post-secondary education for people with disabilities.
She’ll fight to finally ratify U.S. participation in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to affirm American leadership in fighting for the civil rights of people with disabilities around the world.
She’ll fight to pass the Working Families Tax Credit to allow people without dependent children to take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit. And she’ll make the Child Tax Credit fully refundable which would be particularly beneficial to families who have children with disabilities.
Because quality, affordable health care is core to economic security, she’ll fight to pass her Medicare for All plan which addresses the significant barriers to quality health care that children and adults with disabilities face.
Kamala’s plan fully covers comprehensive long-term services and supports, as well as assistive technologies and Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) services that are critical to children with disabilities. It also ensures that those long-term services and supports are consumer-directed and are provided in home- and community-based settings.
And it ensures that when families move, or people with disabilities change jobs, their coverage moves with them so that they have uninterrupted access to the care and services they need.
She’ll ensure that people with disabilities impacted by disasters have the services and other civil rights protections they are entitled to under the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, so they can return home, to work and school at the same time as the rest of the disaster impacted community.
And, she’ll make sure the federal government leads by example.
Kamala will recommit us to the goal President Obama established in 2010 to make the federal government a model inclusive employer and strongly enforce Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act. She will direct agencies to create updated plans for how to make the recruitment, hiring, and retention of people with disabilities a priority in her administration. And she’ll make sure this diverse leadership is represented in senior positions and that there are opportunities for promotion.
Kamala will also take executive action to ensure that the technology the federal government buys, develops, or uses is fully accessible, as is currently required by federal law. This will include requiring each agency to implement a plan to ensure that any new technology developed or acquired is fully accessible before it is deployed, as well as doing an analysis of existing technology that is not compliant and develop a timeline for updating it.
And Kamala will create new senior-level positions in the White House to make sure that the priorities for people with disabilities are incorporated across all of her policymaking, particularly on the Domestic Policy Council and the economic work of her administration.