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AAPD Disability Policy Download – February 2024

by | Mar 2, 2024 | Blog, Disability Rights, Fannie Lou Hamer Program, Policy Newsletter, Voting

Note: This is the full-length version of AAPD’s February 2024 policy update. AAPD sends out a shortened version to its mailing list each month. If you have feedback or questions, or have any access issues, please email Jess Davidson at jdavidson@aapd.com.

To receive the Disability Policy Download email brief, as well as all our other newsletters and emails, register for AAPD’s newsletter at this link.

February Advocacy Highlights


Statements on CDC’s New COVID-19 Guidelines

On February 13, the Washington Post reported that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention (CDC) was preparing to release new proposed isolation guidance for COVID-19 that would reduce isolation times to as little as one day in many cases. AAPD released a statement expressing severe concern and asking the CDC and the Biden administration to change course. That statement can be read here.

Today, March 1, the CDC released that new guidance, titled Respiratory Virus Guidelines. AAPD published a statement again to express disappointment and frustration with the new guidance, and our concerns for the disability community amidst its changes. Read that statement here. 


AAPD Comments on the DoJ’s Proposed Accessibility Standards for Medical Diagnostic Equipment

AAPD submitted comments in support of the Department of Justice’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking entitled Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability: Accessibility of Medical Diagnostic Equipment of State and Local Government Entities. This proposed rule would implement accessibility standards for medical diagnostic equipment (MDE), including exam tables, diagnostic imaging machines such as those used for mammography, and more under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The U.S. Access Board released these accessibility standards for MDE in 2017, and this proposed rule from the Department of Justice would make them enforceable. Read our comments here


AAPD Comments to AbilityOne Commission on Proposed Regulation on Competition

AAPD submitted comments to the Office of Management and Budget and the AbilityOne Commission on the proposed regulation, Supporting Competition in the AbilityOne Program. Established in 1938, the AbilityOne program provides employment opportunities and related supports to 45,000 people who are blind or have significant disabilities and provides products and services to the U.S. government and armed services.  AAPD is concerned that this proposed regulation would substantially alter the purpose of the AbilityOne program by making costs the main consideration when reviewing applications for AbilityOne contracts.  Read our comments here. 


AAPD Asks President Biden to Include Disability Policy Priorities in State of the Union Address

AAPD sent a letter to President Biden asking him to include people with disabilities and key disability policy priorities in his upcoming State of the Union address, scheduled to be delivered to a Joint Session of Congress on March 7. Read our letter to the President here


AAPD Attends Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Conference in Philadelphia

On February 6th and 7th, Maria Town, AAPD President and CEO, and Gaby Madriz, AAPD Chief Operating Officer, attended The Equity and Social Justice Relationships Winter Convening in Philadelphia, hosted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The convening brought together leaders from various non-profit organizations who focus on different aspects of health equity. The convening was the first in-person gathering of this cohort of leaders and provided an invaluable opportunity to build relationships for mutual support and collaboration. AAPD is excited to continue to build upon the connections forged at the convening in order to advance our shared goals of increasing health equity through advocacy and civic engagement within our communities. 


Fannie Lou Hamer Leadership Fellows Visit Washington, D.C.

February 22-25, fellows in the 2023 Fannie Lou Hamer Leadership Program gathered in Washington D.C. to put their legislative advocacy skills into action and build connections within the disability community. The Fannie Lou Hamer Leadership Program, started in 2020, is designed for young Black disabled advocates (ages 18 – 30) who are committed to the social, political, and economic issues surrounding the intersections of the Black and Disability communities. The fellows met with Members of Congress, visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture, toured the We Who Believe in Freedom Exhibit at the MLK Library, and more. Read about the leaders from our 2023 cohort here


AAPD Submits Written Testimony Regarding Disabled Entrepreneurs

On January 30, 2024 the Committee on Small Business held an Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Workforce Development Subcommittee hearing titled “Pathways to Success: Supporting Entrepreneurs and Employees with Disabilities.” AAPD submitted written testimony on the barriers disabled entrepreneurs and employees face and what can be done to resolve these issues, such as passing the Supporting Disabled Entrepreneurs Act. You can read the full testimony here


REV UP Updates


New U.S. Senate Bills Improving Democracy

This month, the REV UP network has been excited about the release of multiple bills working to improve our democracy!

The Accessible Voting Act establishes an Office of Accessibility in the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, requires states to create accessible voting websites, requires states to allow no-excuse absentee voting for all voters and provide accessible absentee digital blank ballots, authorizes funding for states to ensure polling place accessibility, and more. 

The Removing Access Barriers to Running for Elected Office for People with Disabilities Act protects candidate’s who need access to crucial federal disability benefits. 

Lastly, the AID (Accessibility and Inclusion to Diversify) Local Government Leadership Act supports accommodations for local elected officials. 

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore and improve the Voting Rights Act by adding back in protections against racial discrimination in voting and representation. Maria Town, President and CEO of AAPD, said of the bill, “We have seen a disturbing increase in voter suppression laws at the state-level with policies that specifically create barriers for disabled voters. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is a crucial protection against discriminatory voting laws. We urge Congress to pass this law so we can get closer to a democracy where every voter has full access to their right.”

To learn more about these bills and get engaged in advocacy, register to attend REV UP National Calls and sign up for the REV UP newsletter


Technology Policy


NTIA Workshop at NDIA conference 

AAPD participated in a workshop on disability inclusion at the National Digital Inclusion Alliance conference in Philadelphia this month. AAPD urged state planners to reach out to the federally funded networks to learn more about the needs of our community, and highlighted the need to pay for assistive devices that allow disabled people to access broadband to communicate. We also urged libraries to work with existing assistive technology to create community hubs for people to learn how it can be used by assistive devices to communicate. 


Conversation with the FCC 

AAPD attended a briefing for Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Rosenworcel with the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights. The priorities we shared included advocating for the FCC to create an Office on Civil Rights, an update on several matters related to digital discrimination rulemaking, and the need to secure funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). AAPD reinforced the need for the Commission to address the access to assistive devices comments included in our comments to the Commission on the digital discrimination rulemaking.