Sunday, October 30, 2016

Voting for Hillary? Watch this. Not sure? Watch this.

Enough with the email talk. Do you want to feel real emotion and see the real reasons why Hillary Clinton should be our next president? Just watch this video. And if you're moved by it, share it with others. I don't want to write too much about it. Just watch it. I think it's one of the best, most authentic videos of this long campaign season.

Also, view "Reasons Why Deaf People Support Hillary Clinton" (select closed captioning if preferred).

Want to read more and get involved? Follow the Facebook page "Deaf People for Hillary."

Obstacles for Voters with Disabilities

"For many people with disabilities, the question is not will they vote, but can they vote." Read Vox's article "Americans with Disabilities Struggle to Exercise a Right that Most Take for Granted -- Voting."

Review the Justice Department's ADA Checklist for Polling Places.

Listen to or read NPR's story "Disabled Voters Fight for More Accessible Polling Places."

Thursday, October 27, 2016

From a College Student with Autism: "Why Hillary Clinton Deserves Disabled Community's Support"

In a powerful and persuasive op-ed in Vassar College's student newspaper, Jesser Horowitz shares her personal story, her relationship with Hillary Clinton, and why she urges all people with disabilities to vote for Clinton.
She writes: "I believe that Hillary Clinton can be the Amer­ican president the disabled community of this country has been waiting for: a champion of dis­ability rights that can finally bring our issues to the forefront of American politics where they belong. She, more than any other candidate in the history of America, shows a unique understanding of the struggles that disability poses....
"Most candidates for public office feel content addressing the major issues and ignoring the people that are impacted by them. They’re great at talking, but they’re terrible at listening. This becomes especially prominent when addressing issues of disability. Donald Trump doesn’t even mention the word disability on his website, yet he feels the need to comment about how vaccines cause autism on national television.
"Hillary Clinton differentiates herself from al­most every other politician through her passion for listening. She has a unique ability to ensure that voices are heard, and she utilizes that ability when crafting policy. Hillary Clinton is the only candidate with an extensive, detailed plan on how promote disability rights. That is because she is the only candidate who truly appreciates the power of listening and learning from people. That quality is essential in performing the responsibilities of pub­lic office generally and addressing issues facing the disability community specifically. It is that ability that will make her the best advocate we have ever had in the White House."

Read "Why Hillary Clinton Deserves Disabled Community's Support."

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Fact Check: Did Donald Trump Mock Reporter with a Disability?

Last night was the final presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and a lot of people are relieved that debate season is almost over (except one more between the VP candidates). Disability policy was not a major topic (as has been true throughout this campaign), but Clinton did briefly express concern about Trump's attitudes toward people with disabilities.
While she was listing several examples of Trump's discriminatory behavior, she said, "He also went after a disabled reporter, mocked and mimicked him on national television," referring to New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has arthrogryposis, a congenital condition which limits the movement of his joints. 
Trump interrupted with one word: "Wrong."
Did he or didn't he mock Kovaleski? He did. The Washington Post Fact Checker gave Trump "4 Pinocchios" -- their lowest rating. And Politifact concludes his denial last night was false. Read "Donald Trump Says Hillary Clinton is 'Wrong' to Say He Mocked a Disabled Reporter" from Politifact. 

Four Threats to Medicare if Trump is Elected

Read "The 4 Ways Congress Could Weaken Medicare if Trump Becomes President" by Diane Archer, founder of, in the Huffington Post.

1. Republicans in Congress want to privatize Medicare and turn it into a defined contribution program. This will force people to pay more for health care, because private insurers would have few limits on what they can charge for premiums, deductibles, and copayments.

2.  Republicans want to eliminate traditional Medicare. Traditional Medicare is the preferred option for 70 percent of people, because of the choice it offers for doctors and hospitals. This would restrict the government's ability to improve the program, which will mean fewer choices and higher costs.

3.  Republicans want to means-test Medicare even more, which would increase costs for middle-class and wealthier Americans.

4. Republicans want to raise the age of Medicare eligibility. People eligible for Medicare based on age can enroll when they are 65, but Republican leaders in Congress want to increase that to 67.

Read more.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Candidate Comparison: Clinton, Trump, Johnson, and Stein

What about the third-party candidates? I'm glad you asked. Instead of just comparing the positions of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the website "Complex Child" also examines the disability positions of Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party) and Jill Stein (Green Party). Take a look for all four candidates' positions on:

  • Disability rights
  • Medicaid, insurance, and the health care system
  • Special education
  • Community living (including Medicaid waivers)
  • Special condition plans

Read "Disability Positions of the 2016 Presidential Candidates."

How Will Disability Vote Influence the Election?

2016 is a unique election year when it comes to disability issues, according to researchers at Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations. Highlights from a Q&A with Professors Douglas Kruse and Lisa Schur, who predict voter turnout will be higher this year for people with disabilities and their family members:

Kruse, on the potential impact of these voters:

"We project that 35.4 million people with disabilities will be eligible to vote on Nov. 8, representing about one-sixth of the electorate. Perhaps more importantly, we project 62.7 million eligible voters who either have disabilities or household members with disabilities, representing over one-fourth of the electorate."

Schur, on what's different this year:

"Disability has not been a significant partisan issue in past elections, but that changed this year with the controversy created by Trump's behavior and the focus by Clinton on policies to expand employment for people with disabilities."

Kruse, on obstacles that voters with disabilities may encounter:

"Our 2012 national post-election survey found that 30 percent of voters with disabilities reported some type of difficulty in voting at a polling place, compared to 8 percent of voters without disabilities. The most common problems reported were difficulty in reading or seeing the ballot, or understanding how to vote or use voting equipment."

Read the full Q&A: "Voters with Disabilities and the 2016 Presidential Election."

LA Times Op-Ed: Trump's Pattern of Discrimination

An op-ed in today's Los Angeles Times calls Donald Trump "the most ableist presidential nominee in modern American history." David Perry, a disability rights journalist who has a son with Down syndrome, describes ableism as "discrimination against and stigmatization of people with disabilities or people perceived to have disabilities." He writes, "Ableists convey the message that disabled people are not full members of our society, leading to exclusion and even abuse. Trump is fully complicit in sending precisely that message."

Perry cites numerous examples of Trump's pattern of discrimination:

  • He mocked a reporter who has a physical disability.
  • He made fun of Hillary Clinton for her alleged illness, including pretending to wobble and faint to draw laughs from a crowd.
  • He has made fun of people's weight, including Alicia Machado, Rosie O'Donnell, and even Chris Christie. 
  • He has stated that some people are born with qualities to lead, while others aren't.*

But Perry explains that words are not what he's concerned about -- it's what Trump would do as president. He's promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would once again make it legal to discriminate against people with a pre-existing condition. When asked by Perry and disability advocates to explain Trump's position on issues, his campaign has been silent. Read "Trump's Not Just Racist and Sexist. He's Ableist."

* Trump's biographer Michael D'Antonio has said that Trump's father taught him that "there are superior people and that if you put together the genes of a superior woman and a superior man, you get a superior offspring." Called "eugenics," this theory until the 1940s was used to justify sterilizing disabled people. And Adolf Hitler's theory of racial hierarchy was the justification for the Holocaust. Read "Donald Trump Believes He Has Superior Genes, Biographer Claims," from The Independent.

Secretary Clinton on ADA: "We Still Have Work to Do"

In 2015, Hillary Clinton spoke in Ames, Iowa, about the 25th Anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act:

"I think that we should acknowledge how the disabilities community has played such an important role in changing things for the better in our country," she said. Speaking of her first job after law school at the Children's Defense Fund, she said she went door to door to ask families if they had a child who wasn't in school. "I heard mostly that, yes, we have a blind child, a deaf child, a child in a wheelchair, a child with some other kind of disability that is not accepted in school. So we gathered up all of our evidence, and we presented it to the Congress, and that first effort resulted in passing Education for All, and all children with disabilities were given the right to go to school."

She added, "We've come a long way in the last 25 years. We still have work to do. We're by no means finished....There's a lot of unfinished business -- both at home, and around the world....We have our faults and we have our challenges, but there isn't any nation that has continually tried to push forward to widen the circle of opportunity the way we have. Despite the continuing problems that we face, we're going to keep doing that."

Read her full statement.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Q&A with Founder Maureen Graves

The website summarizes disability issues as they relate to the 2016 election, with a strong preference for Senator Clinton over Donald Trump. See my post about the site. I interviewed the site's creator, Maureen Graves, about her site and the importance of this year's election for people who care about disability issues.

Q: Why did you create the website?

A: I have been an active Democrat since before I was old enough to vote, starting in the civil rights movement and McGovern campaign in Oklahoma. As a grownup, in advocating in Sacramento on behalf of students with disabilities, I have seen the importance of bipartisan advocacy, and I have certainly seen that both parties need to be pushed on disability issues. But I am afraid that much of the disability movement has gotten stuck in a position of nonpartisanship. Politicians fill out our questionnaires, sometimes, but don't see us as a powerful bloc that will support those who support us, and vote out politicians who don't. Partly because of the cautious approach of organizations, individuals and families affected by disabilities tend to stick with the politics of their families of origin, often without realizing that despite the nice words of both parties, often one supports their interests and one effectively opposes them. This year, Democrats are on our side, and Republicans endorse policies which would be disastrous if Trump wins, and very harmful if Clinton wins but does not get the Congress  she needs to get things done.

Q: What kind of response or reaction have you gotten about the website? 

A: It's hard to tell. I have never waited for Facebook "likes" to roll in before and don't know what to expect. I don't know how much information is being passed along. Families are busy; lawyers and other advocates are busy. The electorate is very polarized, and disability issues are currently not a priority for many voters, partly because the differences are often hard to see. I've encountered little hostility so far. I think people know this year is different and that many centrists and conservatives realize that the "others" Trump is attacking includes people with disabilities.

Q: How is this election different from past elections for people who care about disability issues?

A: I've been following presidential elections with meaningful understanding since 1968, and I think this year is uniquely terrifying. Trump does not just seem to disagree with areas of bipartisan consensus on domestic and foreign issues -- he doesn't seem to have any idea what that consensus has  been. He is bringing kinds of bigotry that used to be on the fringe into the mainstream. His treatment of people with disabilities is part of a very scary movement.  

Q: What do you think is most important for people to know?

A: First, the problem is not just Trump. His economic policies except on trade are those of the mainstream of the Republican party -- cut regulations and legal protections, reduce taxes on the rich, cut spending to meet people's needs, etc. In fact, if elected, it seems he would turn over domestic policy to his running mate Mike Pence, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. That would be horrible for people with disabilities.

Second, this isn't going to be over after the election. Trump and people with similar views will continue outright attacks against people with disabilities, among others. "Traditional" Republicans will profess concern but vote for the wrong policies. We need a long-term presence that is not afraid to be partisan when necessary. Our community needs report cards on politicians, and we need to be seen as a group that can swing depending on politicians' campaigns and actions once in office.

Learn about the issues at

Get the Facts:

I'm going to report on a few of the most important issues facing people with disabilities, but I will only scratch the surface compared to what's already available on the new website, created by special education lawyer Maureen Graves. Like me, Maureen strongly supports Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, and she doesn't hide that fact. But the analysis is not the emotional, name-calling, hate-filled rhetoric you see so much online these days. Instead, she provides factual summaries of the candidates' past records and proposed policy positions on critical issues, including:
On the site, you'll also find:
  • Records of the vice presidential candidates
  • Information about close Senate races
  • Critical Supreme Court cases and issues
  • And other resources
Kudos to Maureen for creating such a thorough resource for people who care about these issues. And she even cites sources, which is often lacking in Facebook and Twitter posts, to name just a few places you'll find false or misleading claims. Read my Q&A with Maureen.

Please read about the issues you care about, and vote.

Time for People With Disabilities to Show Their Power and Vote

From the Special Education Law Blog:

"Persons with disabilities now represent the largest minority group in our country's electorate....35.4 million people with disabilities, which represents one-sixth of the U.S. electorate, are eligible to vote. When family members of the disabled are included, the number of Americans directly affected by disability swells to 62.7 million....

Charles Fox, who runs the blog, points out that several key issues are at stake:

  • protecting Medicaid and Social Security Disability
  • ensuring that children get the special education services they need
  • protecting people from violence
  • and much more.
Fox does not express his personal political beliefs on his blog, but he closes with this:

"It has been an ugly and brutal presidential election cycle. It is time for all voters who have disabilities to take a good hard look at the candidates....Viewing the websites and conduct of each candidate should readily inform voters with disabilities and their loved ones with all they need to vote with knowledge of who will support their interests. Register, vote, and let our power as a community be felt."

I couldn't put it any better. Vote.

Eight Years Later, Another Critical Election

In a few weeks, we will elect a new president who will have a major impact on our country, our economy, our security, and our values as Americans. So this blog is back.

In 2008, I felt compelled to create this blog after Sarah Palin entered the presidential race when John McCain ran against Barack Obama. Many of my friends who have children with disabilities -- including many who typically don't follow politics -- thought that Palin would be an advocate for children with disabilities, because she herself had a son with Down syndrome. However, her record indicated otherwise.

While being transparent about my bias toward Democratic candidates and the fact that I had worked in the Clinton White House, I attempted to report objectively on issues like special education, the economy, and health care. After President Obama was elected, I continued to advocate for these issues, so campaign promises would become real action. If you look back, you'll see that I was critical of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, for example.

In 2012, President Obama ran for reelection on his strong record, which included passage of the Affordable Care Act. The legislation had direct benefits for people with special medical needs -- such as removing lifetime caps on benefits, ensuring that everyone could get health care, and eliminating denial of benefits for people with pre-existing conditions. But Governor Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan (now speaker of the house) pledged to eliminate the ACA, which would have had disastrous effects. Today, that is even more true. No one thinks the legislation is perfect, but rescinding it altogether would mean that people would lose their coverage and maybe never get it back again.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be reporting on the issues from the perspective of how they will impact people with disabilities. And unlike 2008, the purpose of this blog will not be to give a balanced view. I am biased, and the content will be biased -- but as factual as I can possibly be.

Disability Scoop

Special Ed News (Education Week)

Special Education Law