Issues

Fighting for Disability Rights

“The Americans with Disabilities Act established a clear national mandate that we as a nation have a moral responsibility to ensure that all Americans have access to the programs and the support needed to contribute to society, live with dignity, and achieve a high quality of life.”

                                                                                                — Senator Bernie Sanders

When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed 25 years ago, it was hailed as the world’s first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities. Today, as a result of this landmark legislation, millions of people with disabilities are no longer denied the opportunity to get on a bus, go to a decent school, make a decent living, attend a baseball game, and live successful and productive lives. Instead of being isolated and hidden from society, kids with disabilities are now in classrooms all over America and graduating from high school and college with the respect and admiration of their classmates, teachers, and families.

This transformation in our culture and society did not happen by accident, and it did not happen overnight – it happened because a grassroots movement demanded change. Despite the progress that has been made over the past two decades, we unfortunately still live in a world where people with disabilities have fewer work opportunities and where the civil rights of people with disabilities are not always protected and respected.

Bernie has been a champion for the rights of people with disabilities and he will continue to fight to ensure that our society is one where people with disabilities can live full and productive lives.

Bernie will fight to:

  1. Protect and expand the Social Security Disability Insurance Program (SSDI)

    SSDI is vitally important to more than 11 million Americans, including more than one million veterans and nearly two million children. The average disability benefit is about $1,200 a month. For many people, that is their entire income.

  2. Increase employment and educational opportunities for persons with disabilities.

    In the year 2016, it is unacceptable that over 80 percent of adults with disabilities are unemployed. We need to fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and vocational education programs. We also need to expand funding for Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs), which aim to provide “one-stop shopping” for information on long-term services and support.

  3. Fight for the U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

    Bernie will continue to fight for equal access and equal rights for people with disabilities. That’s why Bernie strongly supports the ratification of this important treaty.

Nearly one-in-five Americans have a disability. Disability may occur at any stage of life, to anyone, and how our government and elected leadership respond to the issues facing people with disabilities and their families – from housing and transportation, to autonomy, to employment and education and access to services – shapes the fabric of our society.

At a time when millions of disabled Americans are struggling to keep their heads above water economically, Bernie believes that we must expand the social safety net in this country so that every American can live in dignity.

As the lead Democrat on the Budget Committee, Bernie fought against the Republican budget that would make lives much more difficult for persons with disabilities by throwing 27 million Americans off of health insurance, cutting Medicaid by $500 billion, turning Medicare into a voucher program, and making savage cuts in education, affordable housing, vocational assistance, and nutrition programs.

Instead of slashing Medicaid, instead of privatizing Medicare, Bernie believes what the United States must do is join every other major nation on earth and recognize that health care is a right of citizenship for every American, regardless of age.

That’s why Bernie is fighting for a Medicare-for-all single-payer health care plan for every man, woman, and child in this country.

As Franklin Delano Roosevelt reminded us: “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.” And that is a test that we as a nation must once again meet and master.