​How the Biden Administration Could Impact the Disability Community

Posted by Stephanie Woodward in Life After Paralysis on December 09, 2020 # Advocacy and Policy

By guest blogger Stephanie Woodward

During his campaign, President-Elect Biden actively engaged the Disability Community by including disabled people as advisors, creating a paid staff position dedicated to disability issues, and putting forth plans for both government policies and administration positions to help advance the rights of people with disabilities. Now that he will be sworn in as the 46 President of the United States in January, what does all of this mean for the Disability Community?The White House

When it comes to policy, President-Elect Biden unveiled his comprehensive disability rights plan back in May of 2020. This plan is vast and covers enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act, ensuring people with disabilities have the right to home and community-based services, supporting employment of disabled workers, supporting students with disabilities, addressing transportation barriers, and supporting an increase for Supplemental Security Income. Biden's plan also includes increasing affordable, accessible, integrated housing options and supporting people with disabilities in higher education. His plan goes on to provide mental health support for caregivers of active duty service members, protecting the rights of parents with disabilities, and so much more. This plan was created with the help of a team of people with disabilities who have real-world experience with the barriers and discrimination that disabled people face in America and who helped President-Elect Biden determine the solutions that would work best for our community.

When President-Elect Biden introduced this plan at a virtual event with a crowd of disabled people in the audience, he vowed that disability issues would be "central" to his administration's agenda. Furthermore, he also committed to creating a new senior White House position: a director of disability policy. This position will be responsible for engaging with and creating policy for the Disability Community.

This new senior White House position is not the only place where President-Elect Biden will be hiring people with disabilities to serve in his administration. Notably, President-Elect Biden has promised to "promote diversity and accountability in leadership across key positions in all federal agencies" and in his victory speech on November 7, President-Elect Biden promised to form an administration that looks like America. Oftentimes, disability has been left out of many people's definition of "diversity," but that does not appear to be the case with President-Elect Biden because he also specifically recognized the Disability Community in his acceptance speech when he said, "We must make the promise of the country real for everybody, no matter their race, their ethnicity, their faith, their identity, or their disability."

What does this mean for the Disability Community? Besides the basic recognition of our existence by the person sitting in the highest office in our land, this also means the potential for people with disabilities to be chosen for important positions in our federal government which will not only impact the Disability Community, but our entire country. In fact, some people with disabilities have already been announced as leaders on Biden's transition team. Furthermore, it can also mean the potential for you to work in the Biden Administration. In fact, there is currently a search for candidates with disabilities through the 46 Disability Job Opportunity Project. The goal of this project is to make sure that candidates with disabilities are fully included and considered in the presidential appointment process. The project will collect information from individuals interested in Biden Administration political appointments and advocate for inclusion with the presidential transition team and, later, the White House Office of Presidential Personnel.

Having people with disabilities serving in the Biden Administration could mean huge advancements for the Disability Community – after all, the policy is shaped by the people who lead our government. This does not just mean the President and Congress – this means the people who serve in all roles across all government positions, and especially in the president's administration.

While President-Elect Biden will not be sworn in until January, we will not have to wait until then to see how his leadership will impact the Disability Community. As he continues to unveil his transition team, we will learn more about the people he is appointing to his administration – and hopefully, there will be plenty of people with disabilities. Who knows, perhaps if you apply, you could be one of them!

Stephanie Woodward is an attorney who is passionate about seeking justice for marginalized communities - and has an arrest record to show for it. As a proud disabled woman and civil rights activist, Stephanie is committed to making the law work for all oppressed people. She is the founder of Disability Details where she provides resources on Disability Rights, access, and life.

This project was supported, in part, by grant number 90PRRC0002, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.