PLEASE INCLUDE DISABLED PEOPLE IN YOUR ACTIVISM.
(note: I’m not gonna talk about Trump mocking Serge Kovaleski primarily b/c Kovaleski does not ID as disabled and does not want to be used as a political talking point. Which is fair. yes, it was awful. no, you don’t get brownie points for agreeing with me that it was awful. Disabled people have evolved to have thick skin, and a politician mocking us is not new or unsurprising. this list will deal with policy and specific issues facing the broader disability, autistic, d/Deaf//HoH, and neurodivergent communities.)
(other note: I generally use adjective-first language but I probably also used person-first language in here somewhere. I personally prefer to use the former for myself but I respect that other people in this community use different language.)
-the federal site for IDEA has been taken down
-all mentions of disability rights have been deleted from the website
-betsy devos had no idea what the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act was when asked and stated that standards for accommodations in education should be left up to the state (this is a TERRIBLE idea)
-if Obamacare is repealed, we have the most to lose. Most of us will not be able to afford medical expertise or treatment to maintain a basic quality of life. Some of us will die.
-he called one of his books Crippled America. Unironically. Ugh.
-the january 2017 unemployment rate for nondisabled civilians was 4.9. For disabled civilians, it was 11.0. These numbers do not reflect the number of disabled individuals who work inadequate part time jobs, who are institutionalized, or have given up looking for work.
-the US still has not signed the UN documents about the rights of People with Disabilities.
-Justices like Justice Kennedy have historically been swing votes on cases involving disabilities. Justices like Scalia have not. Potential Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch has a very ugly disability rights record, which includes defending a college that fired a professor undergoing chemo when she requested to give her lectures over skype (there was a flu going around on campus and being there would put the staff member in danger due to her suppressed immune system)
-By the time he was elected, Donald Trump had already dealt with at least eight lawsuits concerning lack of basic accessibility (ramps, braille) on his properties
-the Supreme Court case legalizing the sterilization of potentially disabled people without their consent (Buck v. Bell) has never been overturned and has been cited as a legal precedence in a lower court as recently as 2001.
-the Judge Rotenburg Center is still using painful electric shocks on disabled students as punishment, despite the FDA advising them to stop more than two years ago.
-similarly, many disabled people are not paid federal minimum wage b/c section 14c of the “Fair Labor Standards Act” is still on the books and so hundreds of thousands of disabled peoples’ wages are “proportional” to their productivity (compared to an abled worker). Goodwill is one of the most famous companies that exploits this loophole.
-the already gutted SSDI program is even more at risk-Trump has spoken about emulating the British reforms for their disability program. Off the top of my head, I can think of nine or ten different people who died as a result of the recent “fit to work” assessments and bedroom requirements in the UK.
-disabled people depend on the Department of Justice’s civil rights division to enforce the ADA and protect us from blatant discrimination. Trump has already proven that he does not care about the funding or effectiveness of the department, and is willing to destabilize it to forward his political goals.
-Donald Trump is anti-vax and is complacent to that movement’s violent and intolerable rhetoric surrounding autistic and other neurodivergent individuals
-Sessions called disabled children protected by federal laws (like IDEA) “the single most irritating problem for teachers throughout America today”. In this same statement, he stated that he did not “remember hearing of gun shootings prior to 1975 when Congress began telling ten percent of our students [they] are not responsible” (the IDEA was passed in 1975, improving the way disabled children were treated at public schools)
-the new administration’s refusal to address fatal police brutality is also an issue of disability rights, given that around half of victims shot by police officers are disabled or neurodivergent. (like eric garner, who had asthma)
In case this list didn’t clue you in: the disabled community is scared. We don’t know what to expect from the next four years, we still haven’t come close to equality, and we are usually left to fight our battles alone. That’s why I’m asking whoever reads this to stand with the disability community against ableism and against policies that will kill us. People have done a great job in the past few weeks of expressing solidarity with muslims, immigrants, refugees, latinx people, LGBT people, and black people. And, honestly, that’s great. Thank you and please keep doing it. But also be aware that disabled people are one of the most vulnerable demographics right now, and be aware that we’re also one of the most ignored. We are made invisible by the media and by society too easily. Please, you have to see us and you have to stand with us.
Looking back on history, it’s impossible not to notice that people with disabilities don’t fare well in authoritarian regimes. Please help us make this time different.