Before the media turned their attention to the presidential debates, Clinton did what fellow presidential nominees have yet to do: namely, on September 21, 2016 in Orlando, FL, Clinton gave a 30 minutes speech that focused on the “invisible, overlooked and undervalued”. Specifically, Clinton spoke about the disabled.
According to the CDC, more than 56 million Americans, or 19% of the population, are living with some form of disability. “Whether they can participate in our economy and lead rich, full lives that are as healthy and productive as possible is a reflection on us as a country,” Clinton stated. During her speech in Orlando, Clinton outlined her plan to make an “inclusive economy” for all Americans. She promised to “focus on improving [disabled Americans] job opportunities.” (This is an excellent goal, but it does not appear to be enforceable. I continue to believe that educating the general public, from a young age, is key, thereby providing a better understanding of the capabilities of the disabled.) She plans to eliminate employers’ ability to pay less than minimum wage to disabled workers and she plans to encourage new partnerships with businesses to improve hiring practices for those who have a disability.
Clinton says she will give the disabled a voice in the White House. In fact, as Secretary of State, she appointed the first ever Special Advisor for International Disability Rights, Judith E. Heumann. She has proposed “Autism Works”, a program to increase the job and housing opportunities for adults with autism. Also, Clinton has released a campaign ad to highlight her commitment to help Americans with disabilities. This ad, featuring Nyle Dimarco, a 27-year-old model who is deaf, begins, “by explaining that there isn’t any sound and that viewers should feel free to scroll past it because ‘we’re used to being ignored’.”
Clinton’s notable speech withstanding, I see the disabled voting bloc as being largely ignored. Clinton’s speech, for example, was the first speech during her campaign to put disabled Americans at the forefront. However, Jennifer Mizrahi, the president of RespectAbility, an advocacy organization for people with disabilities, says the election has focused attention on issues affecting disabled voters as never before.
(On his website, Donald Trump makes a point to note that, on September 21, his campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio was attended by more than 2,000, while Clinton’s speech in Orlando, the same day, only had about 300 attendees. But, in my view, substance is more important than pomp and, ummm, circus.)
Transcription of Hillary’s speech: https://www.hillaryclinton.com/briefing/updates/2016/09/21/in-orlando-clinton-vows-to-protect-the-rights-of-people-with-disabilities/