As advocates for, and parents of, children with disabilities, we appreciate the visibility that Governor Sarah Palin has brought to our community. We understand that it will take strong leadership to build a world free of unnecessary barriers and discrimination for people with disabilities.
However, falsely attacking Senator Barack Obama's policies and unfairly suggesting that they will hurt families who have children with disabilitiesis not leadership. It is nothing more than an attempt to divide people and exploit a serious issue for political purposes. Senator Obama has a comprehensive plan to support people with disabilitiesand their families. His plan will provide all Americans with disabilities the educational opportunities they need to succeed, end discrimination andpromote equal opportunity, increase the employment rate of workers withdisabilities and support independent, community-based living for people withdisabilities. And Obama has a strong record of support for policies and programs that support families who have children with disabilities, including full funding and enforcement for the Individuals with DisabilitiesEducation Act, early intervention and developmental programs and expanded college opportunities for students with disabilities. He has also championed legislation that would allow individuals to make their own choices for living arrangements, and supports strengthening our health caresystem, lowering costs and shoring up the solvency of the Medicaid program. Whether it's his work to pass a bill providing mental health parity in the state of Illinois or his advocacy on behalf of veterans with disabilities inthe U.S. Senate, Senator Obama has demonstrated a commitment throughout his career to ensuring that people with disabilities live lives free of barriers, stereotypes, and discrimination.
This commitment to improving the lives of people with disabilities has been on display from the beginning of this campaign. Over the course of this 22-month campaign, Senator Obama has laid out his comprehensive Plan to Empower Americans with Disabilities:
http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/DisabilityPlanFactSheet.pdf (a plan thatdevoted substantial attention to children with disabilities), established an interactive website on disability policy issues and another to fostergrassroots organization among people with disabilities:
held a national conference call with members of Congress and disability advocates:
and recorded a video message outlining his plans for the community:
to ensure that all Americans with disabilities have full and equal access to the American dream. He took these steps precisely because empowering Americans with disabilities - particularly children - will be a priority in an Obama-Biden administration. And that's why leading disability rights advocates, both Republicans and Democrats, like Tony Coelho, Ollie Cantos, Marca Bristo, and Bob Kafka have endorsed his campaign. We must come together in order to make progress on these critical issues and we must not be distracted by untrue political attacks. We are heartened that Governor Palin has committed to be a leader for families who havechildren with disabilities if elected, but believe these false, divisiveattacks do little to support people with disabilities.
Polly Arango, Co-Founder, Family Voices
Hon. Loranne Ausley, Florida House of Representatives
Marca Bristo, Executive Director, Access Living
David F. Chermol, Former Special Assistant United States Attorney for SSA
Tony Coelho, Former Majority Whip, U.S. House of Representatives
David Ferleger, Disability Rights Attorney
Paul K. Longmore, Professor of History and Director of the Institute onDisability at San Francisco State University
John G. Pari, Jr., Executive Director for Strategic Initiatives, NationalFederation of the Blind
Harold Pollack, Faculty Chair, Center for Health Administration Studies and Associate Professor of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago
Jeff Rosen, General Counsel
Marcie Roth, Executive Director, National Coalition for Disability Rights
Katherine D. Seelman, Ph.D., former U.S. Director, National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR)
Lucy C. Spruill
Dr. Ann Turnbull, Co-Director of the Beach Center on Disability at theUniversity of Kansas
Dr. Rud Turnbull, Co-Director of the Beach Center on Disability at theUniversity of Kansas
13 hours ago