Disability Rights in the 2020 Election

With over 61 million adult Americans having a disability, it should be no surprise that the issue of disability rights has become a vital issue for candidates early in the 2020 election. During the Democratic primaries, almost every candidate released a full disability rights platform. From town halls to Twitter, disabled Americans made it known to candidates that their voices mattered and that disability platforms would be vital in this election. Since voter turnout among the disabled community is continuously increasing, this voter block could play a key role in who wins the 2020 election. With only two candidates left, here is an overview of President Trump’s and former Vice President Joe Biden’s platform for disability rights.

Joe Biden: In early May, Biden’s team released a comprehensive 18-page disability platform entitled “The Biden For Full Participation And Equality For People With Disabilities.” His plan largely centers around fortifying the Affordable Care Act, to ensure that those with disabilities are not denied care. He also plans on making mental health care more accessible. When it comes to education, Biden’s plan includes the updated Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which would provide disabled students with the right to education. His education reform would also include teaching the disability movement in schools. Economically, Biden has a more general promise of including disabled people in his economic plan. However, he does include a plan to remove sub-minimum wage laws, which allows employers to pay disabled workers less than the minimum wage. Going even further, Biden plans to expand accessible transportation and housing for the disabled community, a key issue many disability advocates have been rallying for. Historically, Biden’s policy page points out his work in passing anti-discrimination legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. To make sure the 61 million disabled Americans have their voices heard moving forward, Biden vows to appoint a director of disability policy within the Domestic Policy Council.

Donald Trump: While Trump does not provide any detailed plan on how his administration would benefit disabled individuals moving forward, he does explain his stance on several disability issues. In his “Proclamation on the Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 2020,” Trump provides general support for the inclusion and participation of those living with disabilities. Trump’s platform for disability rights in the 2020 election largely relies on pointing to his current administration’s work. For example, the work they have done through their Multi-Agency Task Force on Improving Employment for People with Disabilities decreased the unemployment rates for disabled individuals. However, Trump announced in February his budget plans for 2021, which include cutting funding for the Autism CARES Act and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. Both of which provide essential research and benefits for the disabled community.

While both candidates have a history of providing rights and care to those with disabilities, Trump’s recent policies have gained criticism from disability activists. On the other hand, Joe Biden has earned praise from prominent disability leaders such as Rebecca Cokley with the Center for American Progress’s Disability Justice Initiative. Either way, with increased voter turnout among the 61 million disabled Americans, it is vital that the 2020 candidates fight for the disabled vote in order to win this election.



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