In the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency, Republicans in Congress have repeatedly threatened the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). According to Rewire, repealing the ADA would force significant cuts to Medicaid, compromising health care for people with disabilities. Medicaid pays for personal care assistants to help with employment, education and integrating in society for those with disabilities. Michelle Diament of Disability Scoop says that as of early January, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was also rescinding guidance documents related to ADA.
The possible repeal of the ADA and the rescinding of documents by Sessions are alarming to the disabled community. Guidance documents define expectations on everything from “service animals to accessible building practices as well as a 2016 letter on employment of people with disabilities.” Documents such as these are important because they offer civil rights and protections to people with disabilities. One of the documents, established in 2016, enforces opportunities for people with disabilities to be gainfully employed. The main concern is that without such guidance people with disabilities will be employed in sheltered workshops, away from other employees.
Furthermore, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, signed into law by Trump in December 2017, will increase the tax burdens for those with disabilities and will restrict their lifestyle choices. This bill will also make major cuts to Medicare. Small businesses also receive cuts in incentives for accessibility features within their stores for people with disabilities. Vilissa Thompson, a social worker, disability consultant and writer, said, “Instead of doing what is needed to fix gaps, the current administration is doing what it can to widen them.” Thompson is adamant that citizens of the United States should not have to fight for basic rights of education and health care for individuals.
Additionally, education for people with disabilities is in danger due to actions by the US Department of Education. Betsey DeVos, DOE secretary, is an avid promoter of private schools. Advocates and families of students with disabilities think her advocacy for private schools will cause more harm to disabled students. Under DeVos’ leadership, the DOE withdrew 72 guidance documents in October 2017 that listed extensive rights for students with disabilities.
While the mainstream media has done some reporting on the slashing of Medicaid and attacks on ADA rights, most news coverage of these issues comes from independent news sites. Corporate news sources such as CBS and CNBC have reported on the issue. In 2017, for example, CNBC reported about proposed cuts to the Social Security Disability Insurance than the other issues at stake. However, the news site failed to address the other pressing issues facing the disabled community.
Michelle Diament, “Justice Department Scraps ADA Guidance,” Disability Scoop, January 3, 2018, www.disabilityscoop.com/2018/01/04/justice-scraps-ada-guidance/24546/.
Robyn Powell, “For People With Disabilities, Trump’s First Year Has Threatened Nearly Every Facet of Life,” Rewire, January 19, 2018, rewire.news/article/2018/01/19/people-disabilities-trumps-first-year-threatened-nearly-every-facet-life/.
Student Researcher: Madeline Klepec (North Central College)
Faculty Advisor: Steve Macek (North Central College)