Presidential-elect Obama's Plan to Empower the Special Needs Community

While President-elect Obama's initial focus will doubtless be the economy when he takes office January 20, 2009, those with special needs should be able to look forward to initiatives that will create positive change.

During his campaign, President-elect Obama's Web site offered a detailed nine-page "Plan to Empower Americans With Disabilities." The campaign's plan was divided into four parts. The first part focused on providing people with disabilities greater access to educational opportunities. As part of this plan, Obama supported fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and creating a study of ways to improve transition to work programs. The second part of the Obama plan addressed discrimination against people with disabilities, and included, among other proposals, a pledge to sign universal health care legislation by the end of his first term in office that will assure that Americans with disabilities will have affordable, portable coverage that will allow them to take a job without fear of losing coverage. The plan also called for better enforcement of anti-discrimination laws through increased funding for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The Obama plan's third part sought to increase the employment rate for people with disabilities. Obama set the goal of 100,000 federal employees with disabilities, and called for the creation of educational and incentive programs for employers who hire people with disabilities and a national Commission on People with Disabilities, Employment, and Social Security. The fourth and final part of the Obama plan supported independent community living for people with disabilities. Obama proposed enforcement of court decisions granting greater access to community living, and also supported an increase in funding for the Social Security Administration to process applications for benefits in a timely manner.

For the Obama campaign's plan to help people with disabilities, click here. See also "What Barack Obama's Presidency Will Mean for Social Security Disability."

People With Special Needs Feel Left Out of Political Discussion

Even though both President-elect Obama and Sen. John McCain and his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, addressed issues facing people with special needs during the campaign, a survey found that 91 percent of people with a disability felt they received less attention from the candidates than other minorities. The same survey also pointed out that 44 percent of the people with special needs surveyed think that health care is the most important issue they face.

For an article detailing the survey results, click here.

Article Last Modified: 11/18/2008