Clinton gives landmark address on disability and the economy


In Orlando, Hillary Clinton gave a moving speech on disability, access, and the economy, promising to make expanding access to educational and job opportunities for disabled people "a vital aspect of my presidency."

As Hillary Clinton noted in her address, 1 out of 5 Americans has a disability (or multiple disabilities), some of them more visible than others. I am one of those people, and this address meant a great deal to me.

I am fortunate that my disability has not, so far, prevented me from working. Not all disabled people are so fortunate―and it's often not their disabilities prevent them from working, but the limited opportunities created by lack of basic accommodations.

Clinton understands this. She understands that disabled people who can work want to work. We want access to good jobs that pay a fair wage.

Among the barriers Clinton wants to remove for marginalized people are those littering the path for an enormous number of disabled Americans, redefining us as a nation determined to be inclusive of everyone who can and desires to participate in the economy.

Today I want to focus on one area that hasn't gotten enough attention. It concerns a group of Americans who are too often invisible, overlooked, and undervalued—who have so much to offer, but are given too few chances to prove it. Now, that's been true for a long time, and we have to change it.

I'm talking about people with disabilities. Men and women, boys and girls who have talents, skills, ideas, and dreams for themselves and their families, just like anybody else. Whether they can participate in our economy, and lead rich, full lives that are as healthy and productive as possible is a reflection on us as a country.

And right now, in too many ways, we are falling short. We've gotta face that and do better, for everyone's sake. Because this really does go to the heart of who we are as Americans. I intend this to be a vital aspect of my presidency.

Inclusivity for disabled people, in both education and employment, is crucial—not only for our own dignity and purpose, but for the entire country.

"In a competitive, 21st century global economy," said Clinton, "we cannot afford to leave talent on the sidelines. When we leave people out, or write them off, we not only shortchange them and their dreams; we shortchange our country and our own futures."

This is not an area of advocacy that is new to Clinton. In 1973, she was a young lawyer going door-to-door talking to families and uncovering the barriers to accessing education for disabled children.

When she says, as she did today, "For too long, accessibility has been an afterthought; let's make it a priority," she means it.

Watch the entire address below.