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Wednesday, November 11, 2020

President-Elect Biden and the Disability Community

Since winning the Democratic nomination, the Biden campaign has made disability issues and connecting to voters with disabilities a top priority. In May, the campaign released a comprehensive plan about 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.”

To follow through on this outreach effort, the campaign hired Molly Doris-Pierce, a young woman with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), as their National Disability Engagement Director. Since coming onboard, the Biden campaign in June, Ms. Doris-Pierce hosted monthly roundtables on disability issues, including on housing, employment and academic accommodations. Further, in August, speakers with disabilities appeared throughout the virtual programming schedule of the Democratic National Convention.

The National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
The National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities congratulates President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris. In his speech on Saturday, President-Elect Biden emphasized the importance of the disability community and highlighted his commitment to making our country a better place for all, including those with disabilities. We look forward to working with his administration to ensure the rights of all peoples with disabilities are protected and strengthened.

“This election—this year—has been unlike one that we’ve ever seen before,” said Donna Meltzer, CEO of the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities. “But throughout it all, I was encouraged by all the voters and voters with disabilities that were focused on making sure their voice was heard at the ballot box. We are eager to work with President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to help protect the ADA, the ACA and expand health care. We are thrilled to have a partner in the White House that understands that every person in this country should be treated with dignity and respect.”
Robyn Powell at Rewire:
For four years, marginalized communities, including people with disabilities, have experienced incessant attacks on our rights by Trump and the broader GOP. From repeated attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to the withdrawal of important special education protections to policies targeting immigrants with disabilities, Trump’s presidency has threatened nearly every facet of the lives of people with disabilities. The recent confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett was yet another assault on disability rights. Moreover, Congress—particularly the Republican members—made several attempts to weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by undermining the law’s enforcement provisions.

With Biden and Harris heading to the White House, people with disabilities are hopeful that we will have an administration committed to advancing rather than attacking our rights. Biden has previously pledged to make disability rights “central to my administration’s agenda,” saying “your voices must be heard, and not just heard, but listened to, because this is about an issue that matters to every American, equality and dignity.” Recognizing us during his victory speech was an essential first step.

Disability rights have traditionally been considered a bipartisan issue. In fact, the ADA was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush with support from both Democratic and Republican senators. However, things have changed dramatically since Trump took office.