A Williamson administration will be dedicated to providing rights, dignity, and opportunity to every segment of society. That is how we unleash the true potential of this great nation.
All people deserve the support they may need to live independently, move around, care for themselves, get an education, vote, and work safely and productively. But people with disabilities are often denied these basic rights. They are often denied vital healthcare and home-based care and assistance they need to live independently. They are too often forced into institutions where they have little freedom and abuse is rampant, and they are impoverished by policies that penalize them for working and earning money.
Disabled children are often cruelly restrained, isolated, suspended and expelled for disability-related behaviors, and deprived of the attention and support they need to learn and thrive. Disabled people face high rates of sexual assault, are much more likely than non-disabled people to be killed by police officers, and are frequently disenfranchised by discriminatory laws and polling place inaccessibility. They face rampant inaccessibility and discrimination in everything from employment to transportation.
Disabled people and their families and allies have been fighting for their rights with courage and dedication for decades, but our government has often failed to listen to them. It is my strongly held belief that by addressing the needs of those with disabilities, we help not only them, but we help the rest of society as well. People with disabilities have profound lessons to teach to those who haven’t dealt with their challenges. The more we integrate them into society, the better lives we all lead, and the richer we all become.
Moreover, all of us who do not have a disability at this stage, are one illness or accident away from the potential of being disabled as well.
Consequently, it’s long past time for our government to fully commit itself to guaranteeing people of all abilities full civil rights and all the support they need to thrive.
About ⅕ of Americans have a disability, but due to rampant exclusion and prejudice Americans with disabilities have always been underrepresented in politics and governance. My administration will remedy this by making sure that people with disabilities are fairly represented in my Cabinet, and in all appointed positions. Furthermore, I will help support people with disabilities in their efforts to secure better representation in Congress, in the Judiciary, and in state and local governments. I will make sure that all my appointees are equally committed to defending the rights and serving Americans of all abilities.
People with physical disabilities who need help with daily activities -- like getting out of bed, dressing, eating, and showering -- are often pushed into nursing homes or other institutions where they can be deprived of independence and end up at high risk of being abused. During my first 100 days in office, I intend to do all I can to pass the existing, bipartisan Disability Integration Act that would remedy this injustice by requiring all healthcare insurers to cover home healthcare.
In addition to making sure that all health insurance covers home care, a Williamson Administration would extend health coverage -- including coverage for home care -- to currently uninsured Americans. My administration would also work to transition currently institutionalized people with disabilities to supported independent living.
Disabled people need Social Security Insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid to cover their healthcare and living expenses. However, if they work and are paid more than $1,220 a month (which isn’t enough to raise a single person living on their own above the 2019 poverty line), their access to these programs is cut off. This forces many disabled people to stay poor and prevents them from taking on full-time work.
A Williamson Administration would guarantee healthcare as a right to all people and work with Congress to reform Social Security Insurance so that disabled people are not penalized for earning wages. We will raise the cap on earnings and create a smooth transition from financial dependence to true financial independence.
Additionally, many workplaces are insensitive to or even hostile to people with disabilities. Basic things like access to buildings are needed, as well as training of employers to be aware of what disabled people CAN do, and training of staff to be respectful toward those who may be different than themselves.
Disabled people face human rights violations all over the world. My administration will use America’s influence to strengthen international protections for the rights and freedoms of disabled people and to increase enforcement of those protections. Healthy disability policy will be part and parcel of all US trade deals with foreign nations and corporations. And America will not sit idly by in the face of flagrant abuses against individuals and communities with disabilities.
Few pieces of federal legislation have had as dramatically positive an impact as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Society now has the ability to take better care of people with disabilities than ever before, and our sensitivity to their needs, as well as our response to the challenges that they face, should reflect the full force of our capacity to help. We are capable of helping people with disabilities better than ever before in our history.
My Administration will seek to fully fund IDEA so that students and their families and communities are well served, and so that states and localities don’t have to shoulder the full burden of these investments.
Many disabled people are unable to marry the people they love and who love them -- especially if those people are non-disabled -- because if they do, they lose vital supports like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Proponents of this existing policy claim that this is because married disabled people don’t need benefits because their spouses support them financially. This is foolish on its face. Far too many disabled people need expensive care which their partners can’t afford to pay.
The Williamson Administration will fight to ensure that disabled people are guaranteed healthcare and the financial support they need, regardless of whether they’re married.
We need to guarantee that people with disabilities receive appropriate sex education. We need to teach some people with serious disabilities, and those who care for them, the meaning and importance of consent. We need to provide disabled people with ways to safely report abuse from family members and caregivers. And we need to make all support services for abuse survivors accessible to disabled people, and teach people who work to prevent and fight abuse and support survivors how to support disabled people. My administration will eagerly take on all of these initiatives.
In order to reduce police violence against people with disabilities, a Williamson Administration will require all police officers to be trained on how to interact with disabled people, including people with mental illnesses. Disabled people, people with mental illnesses, and their families and caregivers would be involved in drafting and providing this training curriculum.
People with disabilities who need guardians to assist them with household and healthcare management are denied the right to vote in many states, even if they are fully competent to do so. A Williamson Administration would advocate for the passage of laws – some national, some state and local – that would forbid this practice throughout America.
Furthermore, polling places are often inaccessible to disabled people because they are located in religious institutions which aren’t required to be accessible. And all too often, accessible machines aren’t kept in good repair and poll workers don’t know how to assist voters with disabilities.
A Williamson Administration would require polling sites to be accessible, accessible voting machines be available and kept in good condition, and poll workers to be trained to support voters with disabilities. In addition, proper, accessible transportation to and from the polls is necessary, or at the very least, assistance (where needed) in voting by mail.
Society now has the ability to take better care of those with intellectual disabilities than ever before, and our sensitivity to their needs, as well as our response to the challenges that they face, should reflect the full force of our capacity to help.
Treatment principles have evolved over the years. We now have communication intervention techniques, improved social interaction methods, specially trained therapists, behavioral intervention skills, improved approaches to environmental arrangement (techniques that involve arranging ones environment to encourage healthy interactions), incidental teaching (with uses behavioral procedures to teach elaborated language and foster interpersonal skills), milieu therapy, and many, many others.
In short, we are capable of helping children with intellectual disabilities, adolescents, adults, and aging adults better than ever before in our history. The Williamson Administration will be rise to the challenge of caring for some of the most historically neglected and abused Americans, by providing them with the cutting edge treatments that can enable them to contribute to society and to live productive and satisfying lives.
Everyone deserves full human and civil rights protections, and all the accessibility and support they need to live and thrive. A Williamson Administration will work with disabled people and their families and caregivers to ensure that our country provide those with disabilities the respect they deserve as infinitely valuable and precious human beings.