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American Association of People with Disabilities Engages Major News Networks, DNC, and RNC on Disability Inclusion in 2024 Election

by | Jan 31, 2024 | Press Release, Voting

For Immediate Release: January 31, 2024

Contact: Jess Davidson at jdavidson@aapd.com; 202-975-0960 


WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), a nonpartisan national cross-disability civil rights organization dedicated to increasing the political and economic power of more than 60 million disabled Americans, publicly shared a memorandum it sent to major news networks regarding accessibility and disability in the 2024 presidential election; and letters sent to the chairs of both the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee addressing ableism that has occurred in the primary election thus far.

AAPD sent identical letters to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Republican National Committee (RNC) calling on party leaders to condemn and put a stop to the use of language, jokes, and incorrect information that perpetuate harmful stereotypes about and prejudices against disabled people. The letter cites multiple examples of presidential hopefuls from both parties using ableist rhetoric and stereotypes.

Ableism – discrimination against or prejudice towards disabled people – has shown up this presidential cycle when candidates have used disability as a punchline in an attempt to get a cheap laugh, called into question a candidate’s capabilities based on their disability, or perpetuated harmful disability myths in policy discussions. These examples are incidents from both Democratic and Republican hopefuls. When touted by presidential candidates, these examples of ableism can have serious and devastating impacts for the millions of Americans with disabilities who need and deserve dignity, respect, and opportunity.

“We expect disagreements between candidates. We anticipate candidates critiquing one another based on their policy positions, leadership, and past decisions. Candidates making fun of one another on the basis of disability or on the perception of disability is unacceptable, and voters expect better,” said Maria Town, AAPD President and CEO. “Ableist language and attacks should not be tolerated by the leadership of any political party, and we hope to see the DNC and RNC get out ahead of this quickly.” 

You can read AAPD’s letters to party leadership here. The text of the letter sent to each party was the same, as this is a widespread issue for both parties.

In addition to the letters to party leadership, this week AAPD sent guidance, resources, and an invitation for partnership in the form of a memorandum to major American television news networks. During the 2024 presidential election cycle, media will play a vital role in helping voters make informed decisions through the stories they elevate, the questions they ask, and the events they hold. AAPD’s memo to major media networks reminds them that people with disabilities make up a quarter of the United States’ population and are a vital voting bloc in every election. 

The memo provided recommendations in three areas: 1) Ensure Disabled Voters Can Make Informed Decisions, 2) Ensure Disabled Voters Can Access Information, and 3) Follow Inclusive and Respectful Best Practices. In addition to providing meaningful recommendations for digital and in-person accessibility practices that will ensure disabled voters can fully participate in their election-related events and forums, the memo provided networks with an overview of various policy issues that are of vital importance to disabled Americans. You can read AAPD’s 2024 Memo to News Networks here

Throughout the 2024 election, it will be critical for all institutions involved in election work to practice genuine inclusion and respect for disabled voters. Today’s memo and letter, as well as AAPD’s Disability Presidential Candidate Questionnaire, represent a concerted effort by AAPD and its REV UP Voting Campaign to ensure our elections are accessible to all. For more information about these efforts, please continue to visit AAPD’s Election Engagement Hub throughout the 2024 election.