Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Why Students with Disabilities Are Supporting Obama

In an online petition called ADA Generation for Obama, students are declaring their support for Barack Obama's presidential candidacy and explaining why, based on his policy positions and his strong advocacy for civil rights, he is the best choice for students with disabilities. They also explain why it is important for the younger generation to get involved:

We are the leaders of the disability community. Some call us "future leaders" or "emerging leaders" and I am here to tell you that the future is going to pass us by if we keep waiting to have our voices heard and waiting to lead. It's time to declare your support for our candidate, and sign on to this letter supporting Barack Obama!

The election is just around the corner and we need to have an impact. It's time that we select a leader for our generation. This is not our parents' generation of disability leadership; it's not even the generation of the many special education teachers who segregate us physically with their separate classes and emotionally with their low expectations. This is the ADA Generation. We are the first generation to grow up with the right to inclusion and with our civil rights protected by the ADA, IDEA, and Section 504. And it's time we fight for the protection of those rights. We need to get out and make a difference.

The petition goes on to discuss the problems facing students with disabilities in today's society and how Obama's policy initiatives, if he is elected, will provide meaningful steps toward solving these problems:

Problem: Students with disabilities are more likely to live in poverty so college may not be a financial option.

Solution: Make College More Affordable: If elected, Obama will help make college more affordable and accessible by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two thirds of the cost of tuition at the average public college or university.

Problem: Students with disabilities are twice as likely to drop out of school, and half as likely to go to college as their peers.

Solution: Authorize a Comprehensive Study of Students with Disabilities and Transition to Work and Higher Education. If elected, Obama will initiate a study to look at what is preventing students with disabilities from going to and graduating from college, what is keeping students with disabilities from getting a job after graduation, how are students with disabilities accessing loans and grants, why are they dropping out from high school and college, and what are strategies and best practices that can be used to turn this around!

Problem: The Supreme Court is hacking away at the definition of what it means to have a disability.

Solution: Restoring the Americans with Disabilities Act: Obama has made being an advocate his life. The Supreme Court is cutting away at the definition of what it means to be a person with a disability. Because of this, the Supreme Court says if you have epilepsy, diabetes, heart disease, or even cancer, that you don't have a disability and can be fired BECAUSE you have any of those conditions. Obama strongly supports Senator Tom Harkin's (D-IA) ADA Restoration Act, which would overturn the Supreme Court decisions that limit the ADA's coverage and effectiveness and will sign it into law as president.

There's much more in this petition than the excerpts I've quoted above. If you are interested in learning more about the substance of Barack Obama's policy proposals and how students with disabilities would benefit from them, I urge you to go and read, and then sign, the petition!

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  • Done, and done.

    I hope we get the chance to see if he really means it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:49 PM  

  • am not a student with a disability I am a disabled student and there is a difference.

    I doubt that Obama would understand that difference.

    Still it is not my election, over here the government is continuing to enhance and create disability in various ingenious ways by scapegoating us as what amounts to useless eaters with the thinking behind so called benefit reform.

    By Blogger Larry Arnold PhD FRSA, at 4:56 PM  

  • Laurentius: Obama by himself would probably not understand the difference between student with a disability and a disabled student. It's hard to blame him for that, as it is not part of his experience, to be a disabled student, so the words being one way or another doesn't make it obvious to him that there is a difference. However........if disabled students had an opportunity to explain the difference to him.........I'm sure he'd get it.

    Students with disabilities...also might be a concept that he can explain more easily to the larger public....not sure about that.....I'm more certain about my first explanation.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:04 AM  

  • To clarify, the petition was written by students, not by Obama himself or his campaign staff.

    I prefer to use person-first language when referring to disabilities in general, because I question society's authority to divide us into "disabled" and "normal" groups, and I don't want to perpetuate that distinction with my use of language.

    Larry, I know that you prefer the word "disabled" to emphasize that it is something society does to a person, rather than a condition that a person just happens to have. However, if society tries to disable me they won't get away with it -- I'll send those Mongol hordes that you mentioned out of the desert after them. ;)

    By Blogger abfh, at 9:09 AM  

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