The National Forum on Disability Issues is just a few weeks away, but neither presidential candidate has made an official commitment to attend. The disability community is taking note. A lot is at stake in the election for this population, which accounts for one in five American citizens.
The National Forum will be an historic event and the only opportunity during the campaign that President Obama and Governor Romney will have to showcase their views on the myriad of issues facing people with disabilities. Scheduled to take place in Columbus, Ohio on September 28, the Forum will be attended by 500 individuals with disabilities, their families and advocates. The event will be nationally webcast at watch parties all over the nation.
The forum is not a debate, but rather a venue in which the candidates can share their visions for a positive and meaningful future for individuals with disabilities. Ohio Senatorial candidates Sherrod Brown and Josh Mandel have also been invited to attend to express their views.
The Arc has joined more than 50 other national organizations in pledging our support as a co-sponsor of this event.
“People with disabilities are disproportionately impacted by the major campaign issues in this election,” said George Jesien, Executive Director of the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, one of the event’s sponsors. “The fiscal uncertainty of our nation, proposals to reform entitlement programs, the battle over health care reform and perpetually dismal job opportunities for people with disabilities – these are major concerns for our community and we hope to have meaningful participation from both campaigns to address them.”
For the more than 57 million Americans with disabilities, including people who are acquiring disabilities as they age and the growing number of veterans with disabilities, the Forum is the one place they can hear the candidates’ views on issues such as health care, long-term services and supports, education and employment. A Forum was held during the 2008 presidential elections, and both the Obama and McCain campaigns participated.
The issues facing Americans with disabilities and their families are universal and non-partisan. More than 50 diverse aging and disability organizations have come together to host the Forum, with more sponsors joining every day.
The disability community is counting on the presidential candidates to speak up for disability issues and make their voices heard on the nation’s only platform dedicated to this topic. For more information on the Forum and how to invite the candidates, visit www.nfdi.org or The Arc’s Action Center.