I've met many talented people with disabilities in my life. Some are blind who finished the best universities and became coders and computer engineers. Others with different disabilities became actors and perform in theaters. There are over 57 million disabled people in America and there are many more great and inspirational stories. But they are not treated the same way as non-disabled citizens, especially in the workplace. Many who have the same exact skill-set, and sometimes even higher skills, are not hired over non-disabled ones. This must stop now.
The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) was passed in 1990 to fight discrimination against the disabled. It has changed our country for the better. Schools have ramps, public transportation is more accessible and supermarket aisles are wider, but it's not enough because many cannot find what they strive for: employment and decent pay. Employment for disabled Americans has decreased since 1990. Disabled workers earn about on average $9,000 less a year than a non-disabled worker. This cannot be.
I call for rewarding employers who make accommodations for disabled workers including tax incentives, creating partial and temporary disability benefits, and offering case management and early intervention.
I would also call for easing the phase-out of benefits as earnings increase. By reducing the severity of the phase-out it would decrease disincentives to work.
There are many things that need to be done such as reforming disability insurance. We need to structure benefits programs to help citizens in need while creating the proper incentives for labor-force participation. This is what we can do for our disabled citizens and re-start the conversation that has been downplayed. We can do better!
I also vouch to hire people with disabilities by including them on my staff and make them an integral part of the revolution.