How to Protect Disability Rights in 2018

Disability rights have always been an important political issue in the United States, but in 2017, the growing profile of activist group ADAPT highlighted what’s at stake. The fight for health care is only a small part of the larger battle for full inclusion in society — something that will be under threat in 2018, thanks to Republican policies.

If you’re disabled and feeling helpless — or nondisabled and wanting to work in solidarity with the disability community — there are lots of actions you can take that will make a big difference.

On the Federal Level

Many disabled people are extremely concerned about threats to Medicaid, which will likely be targeted for significant cuts in 2018 —  in part to pay for the GOP tax bill. Medicaid provides key health services to millions of disabled and/or low-income Americans. Consider contacting your legislators to let them know you support Medicaid funding and don’t want to see the venerable program converted to block grants or subjected to extreme cuts.

Two other pieces of federal legislation should also be on your radar: The Disability Integration Act and the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017.

The Disability Integration Act explicitly affirms the right of disabled people to live in their communities — something vital for civil rights and full inclusion, but also incidentally less expensive than institutionalization. Make sure your legislators support it.

The ADA Education and Reform Act would introduce significant barriers that will make it harder to file ADA-related lawsuits. Proponents claim this will resolve the problem of nuisance lawsuits, but they neglect to mention that lawsuits are the only way to force businesses to comply with the ADA — a law that has been in effect for 27 years. It will be harder for disabled people to access their communities if this law passes, so make sure your legislators oppose it.

You may also want to consider looming policy changes to the education system, which tend to hit…

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