DNC Statement on the 47th Anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 from DNC Chair Tom Perez, DNC Disability Council Chair Tony Coelho and Disability Council Honorary CoChair Judith Heumann
September 25, 2020
“For nearly five decades The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 has been a cornerstone of inclusion in the United States for people with disabilities and their allies. This law opened new opportunities to access accommodation in employment, education, and civic life, and set accessibility standards for electronic communication that still resonates with modern technology. The Rehab Act was a catalyst for change and laid the groundwork for passing the Americans with Disabilities Act 17 years later.
“While many disabled Americans and their families have relied on this monumental law for decades, in just a few years the Trump administration’s failures have begun to tear it apart and roll back its progress. The promise of jobs through government-run affirmative action employment programs has been lost as unemployment for disabled persons has rolled back to pre-Obama-Biden administration levels. Due to Trump’s threats to withhold school funding, the chance of a fairer school experience seems all but forgotten as disabled students fight to get the accommodations they need to learn in virtual settings during COVID-19.
“Laws protecting the accessibility and civil rights of people with disabilities are only as good as the leaders charged with enforcing them. Trump has failed time and again to protect civil rights and provide quality access to civic life for the disability community. We can do better by building back better with a Biden-Harris administration. In honor of the 47th Anniversary of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, we must organize to elect Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Democrats in communities across the country.”