Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris unveiled her plan for Americans with disabilities on Thursday, with a focus on employment through access to education and social programs.
“As President, Harris will expand access to health care, fight for integrated employment opportunities and fair wages, ensure our emergency preparedness and disaster programs are fully inclusive, fight to adequately fund classrooms to ensure equal access, build a diverse federal workforce that includes people with disabilities and fight for the civil rights of people with disabilities across the country,” Harris campaign wrote in a press release.
The plan comes on the heels of a drop in the polls for Harris, with CNN’s latest national poll showing her tied for fourth at 5% – after clocking in at second place with 17% in a June CNN survey. The proposal highlights different laws and agency programs seeking to expand access and employment opportunities, making Harris the only candidate with a plan focused exclusively on people with disabilities, according to her campaign.
On the legislative side, Harris ensured the passage of the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act, which creates a state grant program incentivizing ways for businesses to hire and integrate more employees with disabilities. Citing statistics that people with disabilities are more likely to earn low and less-than-minimum wages, she also promised to pass a bill raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
At the Department of Education, Harris would increase funding for and expand the agency’s vocational rehabilitation system to cover more people and services in accessing workplace accommodations and adaptive technology.
At the Department of Transportation and Department of Housing and Urban Development, the California Democrat would expand accessible transportation and housing projects and require plans demonstrating full accessibility for projects seeking federal funding, pointing to projects seemingly compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act that failed to address accessibility during early planning.
In the White House, Harris promised to establish senior positions to include the perspectives of people with disabilities in policy decisions, specifically domestic and economic initiatives.
She would also implement government-wide accessibility initiatives. Citing former President Barack Obama’s efforts to make the federal government an inclusive employer, Harris promised efforts across all agencies to prioritize disability-inclusive recruitment strategies, diverse leadership, full accessibility requirements for new federal technology and timelines for updating existing technologies.
The plan included a variety of other targeted initiatives, ranging from ratifying US participation in the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to backing the IDEA Full Funding Act, which ensures education funding for students with disabilities. She would also ensure disaster services and protections so that people with disabilities affected by disasters can return to normal life at the same time as everyone else.
Harris’ plan also referenced general policies that she said would help people with disabilities, such as making the Child Tax Credit fully refundable and passing her “Medicare for All” plan, which would cover screenings and treatments for children with disabilities.