by Melissa Smith, Yellowstone Democrats Communications Committee
(Any opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author, but the words of the Montana
Democratic Platform are available to all and should encourage discussion and understanding among all Montanans.)
July is the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which passed 31 years ago. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. The ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.
But did you know, disabled people can still be denied accommodations by schools and businesses, and those on SSI benefits can’t get married without losing their benefits. Just last year, in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, public rhetoric debated whether people with disabilities should get life-saving care.
“No one should face discrimination based on disability status. Democrats are committed to realizing the full promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We will protect and expand the right of Americans with disabilities to get the accommodations and support they need.”DEMOCRATIC PARTY PLATFORM
Last month, the Montana State Democratic Party expanded the party rules under inclusivity to include specific accommodation for our deaf community members, as follows:
To facilitate access by deaf Montanans, the State Party shall provide qualified American Sign Language (“ASL”) interpreters and/or adequate Communication Access Realtime Translation (“CART”) for all State Party conventions and other public meetings it conducts and shall encourage county central committees to adopt rules for the provision of qualified ASL interpreters and/or CART for their events to which the general public is invited, including candidate forums, educational presentations, and the like.MONTANA DEMOCRAT PARTY RULES, RULE 1 MINORITY INCLUSIVITY
Disability Pride Month is a time to celebrate a rich disabled culture of care, art, writing, innovation, communication and so much more. Disability Pride is a message of resistance and radical self-love, and a call to fix ableist structures and systems. Disability rights are human rights, and a call to action in full alignment with Democratic Party principles.