During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump mocked a disabled New York Times reporter, which resulted in a heartfelt ad showing disabled people speaking out against Trump. Now that Trump is president, he still hasn't cleaned up his act.
In a blistering op-ed from the New York Daily News, quote after quote appears from Trump cabinet secretaries during confirmation hearings in which they were hammered on support disabled Americans.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos admitted she didn't know much about the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Not long after being confirmed the page on the department website about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) disappeared.
As a senator, Jeff Sessions outright attacked the IDEA, saying that it was responsible for the decline in discipline in American schools.
Trump's Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch opposes both the IDEA and the ADA, saying that lawsuits aren't the way to defend civil rights.
Embracing so many opposed to disability rights is a stark contrast from former President Barack Obama's White House, who worked to create audio descriptions of the White House tour for blind visitors. The tapes do nothing more than describe the decor and layout of the rooms, but the Trump White House discontinued their usage. Staffers swear it is only because they want their own recording featuring their First Lady. Thus far, the recording hasn't been made, they haven't said when it will be, and the blind aren't offered any alternatives.
The anti-disabled policies are beginning to stack up as well. The GOP healthcare plan, dubbed Trumpcare, would gut Medicaid funding on which 10 million disabled Americans rely. Anyone from the blind, the hearing-impaired, paraplegics and developmentally disabled will all lose access under the Republican plan. Those cuts would roll back the advances made by the ADA for the last 30 years.
While Republicans like to accuse those on Medcaid of being lazy moochers, a whopping 66 percent of disabled Americans are unemployed. According to Daily News writer Jim Knipfel, this is largely due to "employers and elected officials alike continue to see us as little more than helpless and annoying burdens."
His example was a protest outside of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) office in June when disabled protesters, many in wheelchairs, gathered to explain why Trumpcare would hurt them. Capitol Police officers were filmed pulling people out of their wheelchairs and knocking others out of the way to "protect" McConnell.
It’s been nearly three decades since the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which guaranteed the disabled the same civil rights protections under the law granted other citizens. As a blind American, perhaps I remain a bit more attuned to these things, so let me provide a quick checklist of the help Trump, his appointees and his GOP colleagues have offered the disabled over the course of the recent past.
"Perhaps in referring to all he’s done for the disabled, Trump meant he was doing everything in his power to put us out of our presumed misery," Knipfel’s closed.