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As primary votes are tallied, more info on candidates and disabilities

February 6th, 2008

The Barack Obama campaign website highlights the candidate’s agenda for people with disabilities. It includes a short video in which he calls for building “a world free of unnecessary barriers, stereotypes, and discrimination,” and endorses screening, early intervention, research and education services for people with autism. A comprehensive document called the “Plan to Empower People with Disabilities” is included. It calls for:

  • Providing educational opportunities for people with disabilities (which includes such points as fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); early intervention for children with disabilities; and improving college opportuities for high school graduates with disabilities)
  • Ending discrimination and promoting equal opportunities for people with disabilities
  • Increasing the employment rate of people with disabilities
  • Supporting independent, community-based living for Americans with disabilities

Accompanying the plan is an endorsement from four former Clinton administration officials who call Obama “the disability community’s best choice for change.”

The signers are: Seth Harris, former counselor to the U.S. secretary of labor; Paul Steven Miller, former EEOC commissioner and former White House liaison to the disability community; Sue Swenson, former commissioner, administration on developmental disabilities, HHS; and Robert R. Williams, former deputy assistant secretary, HHS.


Hillary Clinton‘s website advocates full funding for IDEA and carries “An agenda to expand economic opportunity for individuals with disabilities.” In it, the candidate pledges to:

  • Promote innovative employment strategies for people with disabilities;
  • Hire 100,000 qualified workers with disabilities into the federal government;
  • Enact a $1,000 refundable worker with disabilities tax credit; and
  • Reduce disincentives to work in federal benefits program.

The site also carries “Hillary Clinton’s plan to help children and families affected by autism,” pledging $700 million a year to fund such things as research, teacher training and better health care. Not mentioned are the growing numbers of adults who have autism.


Mitt Romney’s wife Ann has multiple sclerosis, a fact that hasn’t found its way into many news stories. Here’s one from Kathryn Jean Lopez in the National Review, and another from the New York Times. An excerpt:

The lowest moment of Mrs. Romney’s life was also the key to her political transformation. In 1998, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the neurological disorder that follows no certain course but can incapacitate many sufferers.

… “There have been so many people that have come up and embraced me as an example of what it’s like to face something tough and just get up the next day and keep pushing,” Mrs. Romney said.

Though she used steroids to combat her initial attack, today Mrs. Romney takes no medicine for her disease, instead relying on alternative therapies such as horseback riding – she calls it “joy therapy”- to keep herself well. But doctors say that only medication, which patients often resist because of unpleasant side effects, slows the long-term progress of the disease.

In an interview, Mrs. Romney talked about her decision to forgo medication haltingly, even asking that this article not address it. “I would recommend no one to do what I did because it was such a leap of faith,” she said. She called the medicines effective, but added: “A lot of people get really sick from the drugs and they feel like they’re not helping them anyway. That was kind of my case.”


No mention of disabilities that we could find on John McCain’s site.

3 Responses to “As primary votes are tallied, more info on candidates and disabilities”

  1. william peace Says:

    All the candidates respective websites have failed to provide any information about disability access at campaign events. This is an indication of how unaware they are when it comes to disability rights. No other potential voter group would tolerate such a lack of awareness.

  2. Molly Says:

    William, Hillary has been in the Senate longer, but has also accomplished zilch.

  3. william peace Says:

    Obama’s website may contain a first rate plan to empower people with disabilities but absolutely no information about disability access at any campaign events. The ideas presented by Obama are impressive but he has utterly failed to follow through on them.

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More than 50 million people in the United States have disabilities, a number that is growing rapidly as the population ages. Experts say disability will soon affect the lives of most Americans. This website attempts to aggregate news and commentary about disability, and to document the efforts of people who are seeking new ways to address familiar challenges.

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