Presidential Forum on Disability Issues January 13, 2020

Submitted by Jenny DeVries on Thu, 01/02/2020


Note: on January 3rd, 2020, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) announced their decision chosen to postpone the Elected for Inclusion Forum due to a variety of factors. You can view their full statement here.



We are only a few days into the new year, and it is already clear that 2020 will be memorable for many reasons. One being that our nation will select its President in November. While that seems far away, keeping an eye on the presidential race is important. The candidate we vote on will decide how our laws get enforced and select the best people to run our three branches of government.

AAPD Presidential Forum on Disability Issues

In two weeks, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) will be hosting a Presidential Forum on Disability Issues. The forum invites major party Presidential candidates to discuss important disability policies that affect one in five American voters.  

You can keep up with the conversation on Twitter by following the hashtags #REVUP, #Elected4Inclusion and #CripTheVote.

The AAPD sent a questionnaire to presidential candidates to understand their disability policies. Of the 16 candidates on their website, six have responded. Three of whom are still running for President and all are Democratic candidates. Pete Buttigieg (D-IN), Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Marianne Williamson (D). You can read their answers here.

Presidential Debates Recap

The Democratic Debate in December made history in the disability community when the moderator asked candidates a question about disability policy. Of the seven candidates debating, only three had time to answer. You can find the full transcript here.

Tim Steyer (D-NY) answered first, saying, “The United States has made a commitment to treat everybody equally. And that means supporting people with disabilities, both in terms of education and later when they’re part of the workforce.” Steyer followed the response with a broader discussion about distributing resources and treating people fairly but did not discuss specific policy.

Andrew Yang (D-NY) responded next. As a parent of an Autistic child, he almost exclusively used the word, “special needs,” rather than disability. Beyond that, he did specify a plan to distribute a “freedom dividend of $1,000 a month for people with disabilities.” Yang also discussed lessening “the burden off of communities and off schools who do not have the resources to support kids [with disabilities],” by making it a federal priority.

Finally, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), discussed her qualification as a special education teacher. She referred to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and her plan to fully fund it. Warren also addressed her housing and education plans. Specifically, creating independent housing for people with disabilities and bidding on federal contacts that treat and pay people with disabilities fairly.

Where Steyer and Yang took the question to a broader level, Warren exhibited the deepest understanding of disability issues. She mentioned her support of specific policies that support people with disabilities: IDEA and eliminating the practice of paying sub-minimum wage of disabled workers.

There were some accessibility and word-choice issues, that New York Times’ Andrew Pulrang discusses, but this was the first time in recent history candidates discussed disability on a national stage on the campaign trail. The hope of AAPD and Revup Texas’ forum will be to dedicate a discussion to disability issues and their intersectionality with other aspects of American’s lives.

Using Your Voice

One of the best ways to express your support or disapproval of issues is voting for a candidate who best represents your interests, such as healthcare or social justice.

The prediction is that almost a quarter of the American voting population will be people with disabilities. That equates to over 35 million eligible voters. It is important to understand where the Presidential candidates stand and the power of the disability vote in 2020.


Elected for Inclusion: A Presidential Forum on Disability Issues

Presented by AAPD & Revup Texas

AT&T Convention Center, Austin, TX

Jan 13, 2020

10 a.m. – 2 p.m. CST


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The Rocky Mountain ADA Center's blog, Access Granted, tackles ADA issues through unique and diverse perspectives. Articles are written by staff of RMADAC and a variety of special guest authors. Some may be educational, others might be personal or thought-provoking. Either way, Access Granted will bring you the ADA of today!

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