It appears that President Trump lacks a policy to help people with disabilities get jobs.
When Donald Trump was running for the office of president of the United States, I called his headquarters several times a week and asked the same questions: What are your policies regarding people with disabilities? Do you support the ADA? Has Mr. Trump developed any policies regarding people with disabilities? Are you going to put materials on your site regarding people with disabilities?
Trump’s staff would say, “Call us back in a few days.”
When I called them back their response was, “Call us back in a few days.” Another answer was, “We are working on it.”
Throughout his entire presidential campaign, Trump’s staff never put out anything related to disability. Trump showed his contempt for disabled people when he mimicked New York Times reporter Sergei Kovaleski. Trump denied he mimicked the reporter. His mimic is on tape for everyone to see. Kovaleski has arthrogryposis, a congenital condition that restricts the movement of the muscles in his arms,
To throw more kerosene on the fire, Trump accused Kovaleski of using his disability to grandstand. Trump, the prevaricator, could not tell the truth when Kovaleski told Trump they had met at least a dozen times. It turned out that Kovaleski had met Trump at least a dozen times. He had interviewed Trump in Trump’s office.
If you look at the White House web site you will not see these words, numbers or acronyms: disabled, disabilities, jobs, ADA, IDEA, Section 508, civil rights, Telecommunication Act and Rehabilitation Act. There are more absent numbers, words and acronyms related to disabilITIES.
I know many people with disabilities. They want jobs. They want an education. They want clean water and clean air. They want to travel. They want to be successful. They want families. They want to be independent. When the opportunity strikes, they want to be their own boss.
There is a strong bond between the federal government and people with disabilities. Nearly 50 years ago when I started working there were not any laws prohibiting companies from telling me they would not hire me because I stutter. Today people with disabilities need the federal government’s guarantee that it will enforce federal civil rights laws. Unfortunately, there are no signs that a Trump administration is committed to enforcing civil rights laws for people with disabilities. The Attorney-General Jeff Sessions is certainly no supporter of civil right
In fact, the Trump administration’s retreating actions on voting rights, on LGB&T rights on the bathroom issue and other civil rights issues have been removed from the White House web site. Protecting the civil rights
Of Americans is not on the Trump administration’s agenda. People with disabilities should be concerned that civil rights under Trump do not exist.
The president needs to hear from you. He needs to know that you will hold his administration accountable for not protecting your rights. Your voices must be loud, and your actions visible. You must tell him he must apologize to Sergei Kovaleski.
One way you can tell if disability rights will get a hearing under the Trump administration is how many people with disabilities is the Trump administration bringing into the federal government and where are they being placed?
I have not seen any person with a physical disability in Trump’s entourage. Surely, there are qualified people with disabilities who can serve. Has anyone ever seen a person with a physical disability included in Trump’s entourage? The adage, “out of sight, out of mind,” rings true in this situation.
I don’t know if President Trump is openly hostile towards people with disabilities. His policies certainly are. Trump wants to replace and repeal The Affordable Act. He supposedly called ‘deaf actress and academy award winner Marlee Matlin “retarded” because of the way she spoke. He is known to have kicked disabled street vendors off public sidewalks near his buildings.
What should matter most to people with disabilities are his policies. During his presidential campaign Trump made clear his intent to slash services and roll back legal protections. For the millions of Americans with disabilities who depend on Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act to access the health care and public services that means basic survival.
During his presidency Ronald Reagan struggled to understand why African Americans did not support him. It did not matter to Reagan that he had opposed every major federal civil rights legislation passed in the 1960s. Reagan never understood that better futures for African Americans lie in a partnership between African Americans and the federal government.
Reagan strongly supported “states rights,” To an African American, states’ rights meant returning to the Jim Crow South. That was not their destiny.
People with disabilities can choose to accept the Trump policy of doing nothing and lose years of progress or you can make your voices heard through the ballot box.
The ballot box is your best recourse for a better life.